By Chris Howard

Nearly half of Canadian CIOs are playing an active role in defining new business models for their organizations, demonstrating the emerging importance of IT in delivering business outcomes and value. What’s more is that CEOs are counting on them to do so.

With the rise of digital business, CIOs are increasingly involved in creating business models that were simply not possible in the past. Nearly all top-performing organizations deem IT as important in enabling new business models, and this includes 91 per cent of Canadian organizations.

Use your position — as the CIO reporting to a CEO or equivalent senior leader in the public sector — to be bold about the value of IT and how it is essential for new business models. It is not enough to be the IT provider to the business model: Growth depends on the fusion of I&T into the business model itself. I&T can be used to create business models that were not possible in the past, and the CIO needs to bring those examples into the business model design effort.

CIOs must also be bolder with their digital ambitions and get started on delivering some innovations. 33 per cent of Canadian respondents to Gartner’s annual CIO survey either have no digital initiative or are stuck at the ambition phase. The work you do on business model change is the guide to where to begin. Choose innovations that support the business goals of the new business model, which is often centered on customers.

Innovation, modernization, and new KPI efforts should be focused on capabilities that support consumer or citizen engagement. Those capabilities have the largest potential for short-term return. This translates to continuous delivery techniques in IT (agile and DevOps) and product-centric development. CIOs should ensure that their teams are ready with these techniques and others as part of the I&T operating model: You don’t want to be the team that slows the business down as it tests new business model approaches.

Like other top-performing global peers, Canadian CIOs are realizing their unique position to both influence the business models of their enterprise and become more than just a provider of IT capabilities.


Chris Howard is the chief of research for Gartner’s CIO Research group. In that role, Howard ensures that Gartner meets the general and industry-specific needs of CIOs, with emphasis on both technical and business leadership.

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