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Digital CIO: Digital transformation puts IT leaders in the spotlight

Digital transformation is not just revamping business models and processes; it is also changing CIO roles and responsibilities. That's according to Naufal Khan, senior partner at McKinsey & Company. In an interview at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Khan discussed how digital transformation has led to the emergence of the digital CIO.

In this video, he explains how digital transformation puts CIOs in the spotlight and why the digital CIO needs to be business-savvy to help drive their organization's digital efforts.

Editor's note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

How is digital changing the CIO role? What qualities should the digital CIO have?

Naufal Khan: I heard a great quote yesterday, which is, 'This is the worst time to be an average CIO.' What digital has done is put the spotlight on the CIO.

What digital has done is put the spotlight on the CIO.
Naufal Khansenior partner, McKinsey & Company

I know we hear the word CDO, but I'm using the word CIO here. It basically puts the head of technology in the spotlight. It has created a lot of visibility, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. There is an opportunity for CIOs to literally rewrite their job descriptions and play much more of an integrator role across the organization by bringing these elements together.

This is where [the digital CIO] needs to be bold. They need to negotiate, to some extent, their role up front: 'Do you want me to be a supplier or do you want me to be a partner?'

Lastly, they need to be business-savvy. Very often, there is an organizational culture that's a bit of a barrier. However, there is a need for bold conversation, there is a need for building business-savvy, and then there is a need for stepping up to the plate and saying, 'I'm a business leader. I'm not just a tech leader; I'm not just a back-office IT person.'

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