18th Annual State of the CIO Research Explores the Maturing Role of the CIO

As Digital Business Takes Hold, CIOs Make Their Move Towards Strategic Activities

Boston, Mass. – January 17, 2019 –IDG’s CIO—the executive-level IT media brand providing insight into business technology leadership— shares insight into the maturing role of senior IT leaders and how digital business transformation is a key driver in expanding their responsibilities, in the 2019 State of the CIO research. The majority of CIOs (88%) say that they are more involved in leading digital transformation initiatives within their organization compared to their business counterparts. Close to half of line of business (LOB) individuals agree with this statement as well (47%). (Click to Tweet)

With digital transformation well under way, IT leaders are expanding their business strategy responsibilities, identifying new areas of growth and playing a hand in driving profitability – and with this comes innovative and operational challenges. Eighty percent of CIOs say it’s challenging to find the right balance between business innovation and operational excellence, which is up from 73% last year. Although this challenge persists, IT leaders find their roles maturing and adapting as the tech landscape continues to evolve.

CIOs Embrace Strategist Role
To date, the activities that take up the most time for IT leaders are security management (51%), aligning IT initiatives with business goals (47%), improving IT operations/systems performance (42%), and implementing new systems and architecture (39%). Although these are primarily functional and transformational activities, CIOs are preparing for more strategic tasks. Up from 27% in 2018, CIOs currently say that 34% of their time is spent on strategic activities – which includes driving business innovation, developing and refining business strategy, and identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation. In the next three years, these IT executives expect their involvement in security management to drop significantly. This may be due to that fact that 64% of CIOs feel that their IT and IT security strategies are tightly aligned, and this alignment is expected to increase in the next three years. In many cases, because the essential work to create that alignment is done, it will allow them to focus their time in other areas. CIOs also expect to spend less time improving IT operations/systems performance, which leaves more time available for strategic responsibilities. By 2022, CIOs hope to spend 56% of their time on strategic activities.

“CIOs are at an important juncture in their careers as operational and ground-breaking revenue-generating responsibilities are added to their role,” explained Adam Dennison, SVP/General Manager, IDG Events & Publisher, CIO. “A fortunate trend is that line of business and IT are aligned on the CIO’s priorities for the coming year, and the business initiatives they are focused on.”

Impact of Digital Business Maturation
As organizations move forward with a digital business focus, CIOs are shouldering more responsibility in areas where they previously didn’t a strong presence. For 2019, CIOs said their top priority from the CEO is to lead digital business/digital transformation initiatives (38%). New to this year’s study, 81% of CIOs say that their role is expanding to include new responsibilities. Overwhelmingly, the research finds that CIOs have oversight in data analytics (64%), followed by operations (43%), and business development (38%). In order to succeed with these new responsibilities, CIOs find themselves communicating with the Board of Directors more than ever before (78%), up significantly from 67% in 2018. As they move into a more business strategist role, 62% of CIOs say that the creation of new revenue-generating initiatives is among their job responsibilities. They aim to accomplish this by learning about customer needs (55%), creating teams focused on innovation (47%), and creating business case scenarios with defined costs and benefits (40%).

“You’ve got to spend a day in the life of your customers,” explains Bernie Gracy, CIO and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at Agero. “Living in their shoes informs the set of capabilities, business strategies, and services that you will provide.”


Continue the Conversation
To dive deeper into how to lead organizational change and innovation through digital and disruptive technologies, business and technology leaders are invited to attend the AGENDA19 conference taking place March 18-20, 2019 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. To learn about sponsoring AGENDA19, contact Adam Dennison at

About State of the CIO Survey
The 18th annual survey was fielded online among CIO’s audience with the objective of understanding the current parameters of the CIO role and how it may be changing over time. To be considered qualified, respondents must have identified themselves as the head of IT for their company or a division within it. Results are based on 683 qualified IT respondents, and 250 LOB responses. You can learn more about the 2019 State of the CIO research in the executive summary.

About CIO
CIO focuses on attracting the highest concentration of enterprise CIOs and business technology executives with unparalleled peer insight and expertise on business strategy, innovation, and leadership. As organizations grow with digital transformation, CIO provides its readers with key insights on career development, including certifications, hiring practices and skills development. The award-winning CIO portfolio provides business technology leaders with analysis and insight on information technology trends and a keen understanding of IT’s role in achieving business goals. CIO is published by IDG Communications, Inc. Company information is available at

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About IDG Communications, Inc.
IDG Communications connects the world of tech buyers with insights, intent and engagement. IDG Communications is the world’s largest media, data and marketing services company that activates and engages the most influential technology buyers. Our premium brands, including CIO®, Computerworld®, PCWorld® and Macworld®, engage the most powerful audience of technology buyers providing essential guidance on the evolving technology landscape. Our global data intelligence platform activates purchasing intent, powering our clients’ success. IDG Marketing Services creates custom content with marketing impact across video, mobile, social and digital. We execute complex campaigns that fulfill marketers’ global ambitions seamlessly with consistency that delivers results and wins awards. IDG is the #1 tech media company in the world, per comScore.*

*Source: comScore Media Metrix, Desktop Unique Visitors, Worldwide, January 2017

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Stacey Raap
Senior Marketing & Research Specialist
IDG Communications, Inc.


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