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BW Businessworld

Asia Biz Not Fully IT Literate

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Business leaders must embrace the true value of technology. According to a global report by CA Technologies' on 'The Future Role of the CIO- Digital Literacy', 81 per cent of the Asia Pacific CIOs believe a lack of digital literacy amongst senior executives could be hampering business growth. Only 20 per cent of Asian CIOs in the study felt that their management fully understands the capabilities and impact of new and emerging technologies.

A total of nine Asian markets were involved in the global survey, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

The study showed that while business leaders may lack digital literacy, they largely understand the role of technology in their organisations, where about 75 per cent of Asian CIOs in the study felt their management team consider IT to be strategically important.

CIOs fear senior-level digital illiteracy is causing a lack of market responsiveness, missed business and investment opportunities, poor competitiveness and slower time to market. Further, almost one fifth (19 per cent) of the CIOs interviewed believe the C-suite does not understand the impact of new and emerging technologies. 

“Asian business leaders today have largely accepted that IT has a role to play in enhancing the competitiveness of businesses. For IT to be truly transformational to businesses, leaders need to elevate the role of CIOs to be more strategic than operational,” said Lionel Lim, President, Asia Pacific & Japan, CA Technologies.

The Future Role of the CIO; Digital Literacy report highlights that almost a quarter of CIOs believe senior executives see IT as a cost of doing business, rather than as a means to grow the organisation, make processes more efficient and introduce greater agility and competitiveness.

As a result, it is not surprising that only 17 percent of CIOs are always involved in the strategic decision making process, impeding the digital strategic thinking of the senior leadership team.

Professor Joe Peppard, Director of the Information Systems Research Centre at Cranfield School of Management, believes senior managers must acknowledge that the value from IT comes not from technology, but from the ability to manage and exploit information. “A lot of organisations just wouldn't be able to survive for very long without their IT systems," says Peppard. “CIOs are transitioning into the role of  brokers of IT services; they will also be orchestrators of decisions concerning the architecture of the enterprise, innovation with IT, compliance and policies, and will have closer involvement with line of business managers in realising value from their digital strategies.”

Peppard believes that by working in this way, both the IT organisation and the CIO role will evolve and be able to lead discussions and education about how they drive the business forward through IT innovation.

“CIOs are in a good position to become more involved in strategic discussions. This will enable them to demonstrate how a particular digital strategy or project can deliver value, and win the credibility to take it forward,” Peppard concluded.

“We regularly work with CIOs to help ensure they have the tools they need to communicate value effectively to the business. We see CIOs becoming more involved as a member of the business leadership team and communicating the value of technology more effectively. CIOs are much more in tune with their businesses than they were 10 or 20 years ago,” said Lim. “It is only when the potential of technology is fully embraced by the management team that the CIO’s role can be transformative.”

Earlier this year, CA also commissioned a study on the CIO role, concluding that there was increasing need for CIOs to go beyond maintaining IT to deliver business services to ensure that their organisations stay agile.