CIOs: Can you see the competition coming?

In the recent IBM Global C-Suite Study, “Redefining Boundaries, we spoke with 5,247 business leaders from 21 industries in more than 70 countries to find out how CxOs are tackling the threat of competition. Our consultants were paired with IBM Watson Analytics to analyze the data and compile the most important insights. I had a chance to dive more deeply into what the 1,805 CIOs interviewed reveal.

The report identifies three key initiatives to ready the enterprise for the next level of competition:

1) Prepare for Digital Invaders

Enterprises aren’t seeing the competition coming. Digital invaders are targeted and nimble — often invisible until it is (almost) too late. Not only do CIOs see technology as the biggest game-changer, but so does the entire C-Suite. More so than the past, leveraging technology is now viewed as providing a significant advantage. CEOs and CIOs are tightly aligned in putting technology on the top of the list for transforming the competitive landscape and preparing for digital invaders.


2) Create a Panoramic Perspective

While mobile and cloud computing headline CIOs’ ranking of key technologies, there’s a wide array of technologies in sight to leap from the competition. Respondents to the IBM survey also indicate their plans to focus on other technologies including Internet of Things, cognitive computing, advanced manufacturing, and new energy solutions. Front-runners are moving further ahead by creating a panoramic perspective. They are not only deriving value from mobile and cloud, but also evaluating cognitive and advanced manufacturing technologies. In fact, more than a third of CxOs already see cognitive as key.


3) Be First, Be Best, or Be Nowhere

First to market or being the best in the market is key to remaining relevant. While CxOs as a whole are focusing on business model innovation, CIOs are looking specifically to integrator and open business models to enable innovation. CIOs are deploying more future-oriented business models through collaboration with partners in an ecosystem, sourcing and managing resources and skills and looking at steps in the value chain to create more value for their organizations. “I want to simplify everything, so that we make fewer bets and faster decisions,” said Anders Thulin, Head of Group Function Business Excellence & Common Functions and CIO, Ericsson Group, Sweden.



Torchbearers Light the Way

Among the leading institutions in the study, those with the highest revenue and profits were set on being first-to-market with innovation. Torchbearers are already transforming revenue models. They are reassessing who their customers should be. They are shaping their agendas with cognitive computing in spite of uncertain competition, new digital invaders, and converging industries and technologies.

CIOs, what can you learn from the Torchbearers?

  • Scope: Be forward-looking and bolder about exploring new opportunities in related industries and new and adjacent markets.
  • Scale: Be open to new business model. Take risks and scale rapidly. Invest in emerging technologies such as cognitive computing and predictive analytics.
  • Speed: Be more agile and more willing to experiment with pilot programs or an innovation center outside your current organization structure to produce tighter, faster learning loops to innovate and evolve.

Are you interested in how other CIOs in your industry or region answered key C-suite study survey questions? Find out via the interactive app and watch for more CIO-specific insights in early 2016.


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