According to a 2015 study conducted by Harvey Nash and KPMG titled "CIO Survey 2015: Into an Age of Disruption," the majority of CIOs and other business leaders who were polled believe that not only will their organizations be impacted by digital disruption over the next 10 years, but that the transformation that’s taking place will provide their organizations with a competitive advantage.

The digital revolution is providing boundless opportunities for CIOs to shine as the spotlight on the execution of these efforts is being turned on them. Even though 34% of the respondents to the Harvey Nash/KPMG study say that the CMO is the primary executive leading digital business strategy compared to just 14% of CIOs, in many cases it’s the CIO who is entrusted with the implementation of these efforts.

How successful CIOs are in enabling the enterprise, to both circumvent and drive disruption, will play a significant role in their future career paths. For instance, the rapid pace of change that’s occurring in business is only going to accelerate moving forward. Those CIOs who are able to anticipate disruption from other forces and identify opportunities for driving disruptive innovation position themselves to step into future roles as Chief Operating Officers, CEOs, and entrepreneurs.

Companies that have blazed new paths through disruptive innovation have wrested market share from other players, regardless of whether they’re startups or industry incumbents. CIOs can lay the groundwork for capturing new customers and generating revenue growth by developing innovative business models that drive value both for customers as well as the enterprise.

Within any company, the CEO needs to understand each of the primary components that are essential to running the enterprise – operations, finance, sales, marketing, distribution, etc. The CIO has become increasingly knowledgeable about each of these areas as IT is embedded in all aspects of the business.

Andrew Rashbass is a shining example of this type of digitally-fueled career rise. Rashbass was IT Director at The Economist before becoming the CEO of the Economist.com. In an industry that has been completely revolutionized by digital disruption, Rashbass has since become the CEO of The Economist, CEO of Thomson Reuters, and Executive Chairman of Euromoney.

Given the role and impact that digital technologies are playing in business today and going forward, future business leaders will need to be part-technologist and part-visionary. The new captains of industry will embrace how emerging technologies can be leveraged to craft new business models and capture market share.

Tim Stanley, President, CXO & Founder of Tekexecs/Innovatects/CXOco and former CIO at Caesars/Harrah’s Entertainment advises in an HMG Strategy video, “The best thing you can do is to look at how you would disrupt yourself. And if you can focus on where are the threats, where are the opportunities, what innovative things would you do if you were trying to displace you, that gets you at least halfway to the game of figuring out what are the things you might want to do to drive innovation or stem that off against competitors.”


Key Takeaways

  • Digital disruption is providing incredible opportunities for CIOs to shine as they take on responsibility for execution.
  • CIOs can lay the groundwork for capturing new customers and generating revenue growth by paving innovative business models that drive value both for customers as well as the enterprise.
  • Evaluate how your own organization is vulnerable to disruption to identify both the threats and opportunities for guarding against and driving disruption.