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CIOs must step into the digital leadership void

Martha Heller | Sept. 23, 2016
In this excerpt from her latest book, 'Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT,' contributor and IT executive recruiter Martha Heller discusses the CIO's role in digital leadership.

Wilson doesn’t stop with the TV show; he is turning CIO Live into a social media phenomenon within Accenture. “Before the show, people start tweeting that they are on their treadmill ready for CIO Live, and I post photos to my blog of me in makeup,” he says. “People across the company get together and watch the show as teams.”

CIO Live has been such a hit that Wilson has set up a virtual TV studio and green screen at home, which will enable him to broadcast more than four times a year. “I call it Virtual Live, and it is linked to my blog,” he says. “These are seven-minute vignettes where I interview members of the IT leadership team on topics of interest to the entire IT organization.”


The chief digital officer role is transient. It is the byproduct of an executive team’s surprise and confusion over their company’s sudden transformation into a technology business. After nearly fifty years in IT, Bob DeRodes has seen the dual technology leadership movie before, in which one technology leader is charged with innovation and digital strategy and another oversees traditional IT. “The movie quickly turns into a horror picture—complete with creepy actors, disappearing bodies, gnashing of teeth, and an all-too-unceremonious public beheading of the CIO,” says DeRodes.

In the new era of IT, digital does not mean handing technology leadership wholesale to a new executive nor does it mean keeping it all to yourself. CIOs in a digital economy need to find ways to distribute technology strategy and innovation throughout the enterprise. When technology is the business, CIOs have a tremendous opportunity to write a different ending to the horror show DeRodes describes. This new movie tells the story of a different operating model, one that involves a major perspective shift and partnerships between the CIO and key business leaders, as, together, they make digital an enterprise capability.


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