Insights

Winter Letter 2018

CIO 5.0: a guarantor of “digital diversity”

Corporate development is a top priority. It doesn't just involve M&A, but also, and above all, the use of innovative technology – whether to achieve continuous efficiency gains within the organisation or enable new business models. Until now, information technology has facilitated the implementation of strategies – in the future it will drive strategy.

The use of digital technology is indispensable in the race to gain a competitive advantage. Increasingly, speed, scalability and an innovative product range determine whether a company can remain attractive and competitive. For this reason, chief information officers (CIOs) play a crucial role in successful companies. As such, they are increasingly expected to not only provide the business with an IT infrastructure and applications, but to proactively identify which efficiency gains and new business models are possible thanks to the use of modern technologies.

Our manifold search mandates have shown that the requirement profile for a CIO is increasingly evolving from being a “business enabler” to a “business driver”. This is particularly true when the products and services in question are replaceable. Three examples:

  • A technical products company wants to cut its delivery times and inventories in half and is seeking a CIO from the online retail start-up scene who is entrepreneurial in thought and action.
  • A plant manufacturer wants to transform its traditional service business into an independent business unit with a more commercial approach. The new digitisation and IT officer will evaluate and implement technologies for predictive maintenance and data analytics and rapidly establish a deep learning culture. The aim is to make a quantum leap in terms of plant availability and the company’s evolution towards becoming a solutions provider.
  • An insurance company is seeking a CIO who will increase the efficiency of its corporate processes with the help of state-of-the-art technology and close collaboration with universities. She will quickly build a young, diverse team of digital leaders of the future and work to develop solutions for achieving a significant improvement in the customer experience while at the same time reducing the cost basis.

CIO 5.0: a key figure for business transformation

CIOs 5.0 are becoming a powerful voice within the corporate development process and thus a sparring partner for executive management. They are leaders who are keen to assume responsibility for the strategic development of the company. As change agents and digital scouts, they propel the business transformation, are well connected and engage in close collaboration with universities and young tech companies. Their hierarchical position is only important to them to the extent that they want to move and structure the company as change agents. Whether or not they should be members of the executive board depends on the structure of the specific company. What’s more important is that they have direct access to the decision-makers. In particular, CIOs 5.0 are predestined to shape the “digital diversity” of the executive board and to make a significant contribution to sustained business success. In other words, the lower the CEO’s affinity for technological issues, the more involved the CIO should be.

“Digital diversity” and business transformation are core issues for us: as a versatile, dynamic Swiss Executive Search Boutique, with added leadership consultancy, we want to take our share of responsibility for the successful development of companies in the digital age. Witena can be your sparring partner and has the enthusiasm and skills to support you in the further development of your company.

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