Spencer Stuart: The State of the CIO in 2018

In this article, Rich Brennen from Spencer Stuart gains a deeper understanding of how the position of CIO has transformed within this new environment, analyzes CIOs within Fortune 500 companies over the past three years, and considers how the role could evolve by 2020.

With the onset of digital disruption and the ensuing shorter business cycles, the role of today's CIO has dramatically changed. They are expected to understand the potential of new technologies and platforms plus how to incorporate new technology going forward, while contributing to the evolving business strategy of their company.

The average Fortune 500 CIO is a white male who’s been internally promoted through application development. He likely has a graduate degree, reports to the CEO and will remain in his position for about five years. But beyond those findings, Spencer Stuart has broken down their research and analysis into these six categories:

  • Degree of diversity: The percentage of racially diverse CIOs has increased from 11% in 2014 to 13% in 2015 to 14% in 2016.
  • Typical route to CIO: Application development provides the most common route up for today’s CIO, with 43% of CIOs coming up through this function. That percentage, however, has been decreasing by 14% over the past three years.
  • Internal vs. external hire: The percentages of CIOs who were internally promoted sits at around 50% within each industry — with the exception of professional services, where 71% of CIOs rose from the internal ranks.
  • Level of education: The percentage of CIOs with graduate degrees is gradually increasing, from 51% in 2014 to 57% in 2015 to 55% in 2016.
  • Reporting structure: Roughly 35% of each industry has the CIO reporting to the CEO, except for financial services at 46% and life sciences at 59%.
  • Average tenure: Average tenure for CIOs has remained roughly the same over the last six years, staying at right around five years.

In the end, the CIO position is changing almost as much as the rapidly evolving landscape, and today’s — as well as tomorrow’s — CIOs must be willing to adapt further in order to stay abreast of the new normal.

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