Government organisations will eliminate CIO or digital chief, says Gartner

Nearly two-thirds of government organisations will get rid of the CIO or chief digital officer role to eliminate overlap, says Gartner

Nearly two-thirds of government organisations with both a CIO and chief digital officer (CDO) role will get rid of one or the other to eliminate overlap, according to Gartner.

The research firm said more than 60% of government organisations with a CIO and a chief digital officer will eliminate one of those roles by 2017. In contrast, businesses will continue to develop the roles separately, said Gartner’s Top Industries Predicts 2014: The Pressure for Fundamental Transformation Continues to Accelerate report.

As businesses and government face pressure to digitise services, there is a trend seeing the introduction of new roles. But in government, Gartner sees significant overlap.

“Most government agencies lack a clear delineation of job duties or responsibilities among the emerging, evolving and adjusting roles of CIO, CTO, chief digital officer and chief data officer,” said Gartner.

As a result, over 20% of government CIOs responding to a recent Gartner survey said they currently fulfill some of the duties of a chief digital officer.

The UK government is pursuing a model that has both a CTO and a chief digital officer for each major Whitehall department, rather than a single CIO.

In contrast, big businesses in sectors such as retail – which have been shaken most by the digital revolution – are even appointing multiple CIOs.

IT leaders in affected sectors say that, where digitisation is transforming how businesses interact and serve customers, the person that drives customer-facing developments would struggle to manage the traditional corporate IT infrastructure at the same time.

Travel company Thomas Cook is an example. Its business is being transformed by online consumer habits. Thomas Cook CIO Mariano Albera recently told Computer Weekly’s CW500 Club he is one of two CIOs at the company. He concentrates on the customer-facing IT while a colleague is the CIO in charge of traditional IT infrastructure. 

But in government, where pressure to cut costs is acute, CIOs are outsourcing services. 

At the same time, organisations are tapping into the knowledge of the public and front-line workers to crowdsource ideas for new services, said Gartner.

These factors contribute to a reduction in the need for a separate CIO and chief digital officer, and instead a merged role.

Gartner said that, to fill this role, government organisations should: “Cultivate IT leaders who are adept in communicating and delivering the synergistic value of social networking, mobile communications, data analytics and the cloud for government.”

Read more on IT for government and public sector