Leadership Strategies

IDC CIO Sentiment Survey 2022: The Future CIO Is Not the Same as Today’s CIO

Unlock Strategies and Findings from IDC's CIO Sentiment Survey
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To discover more strategies CIOs will need in order to plan for contingencies and technologies, to create a dependable infrastructure that enables fault tolerance, read IDC’s new eBook, CIO Sentiment Survey: Finding the North Star in a Turbulent Environment.

The adage “the only constant is change” is truer than ever in today’s disrupted world – a world where the velocity, intensity, and frequency of change continues to push us to new heights, compelling IT to change itself and revisit how CIOs must lead this transformation.

The IDC CIO Sentiment Survey 2022 was conducted in July 2022 (with 289 worldwide respondents) and revealed the extent to which digital business is accelerating and the global IT landscape transforming. The survey found that many CIOs face vital challenges in achieving their goals in these turbulent times. The good news is that many organizations are responding to these changes with agility, creativity, and innovation. But how are they doing it? How did they move from being reactive to proactive? What are some of the best practices for survival and success?

Why Does IT Matter?

The percentage of business coming from digital products, services, channels, or digitally driven improvement to operations has reached 50% of total business in 2022 and is similar in each region of the world — demonstrating that digital business is a rising global phenomenon.

Today, IT teams compete globally for talent and can expect a comparable impact on their organization’s business. On average, each full-time IT employee supports $13.29 million in revenue — a data point that is relatively consistent worldwide, with $14.70 million in North America; $13.96 million in Europe, Mideast, and Africa; and $12.39 million in Asia-Pacific. 

It’s not just the revenue generated per IT employee — it’s about how they add value to product or service offerings by enabling digital business, improving customer experience, or making internal operations more efficient. IT is clearly the core engine for the success of a digital business.

But beware of your perceptions. Our survey found that most CIOs overestimate their performance and how much others appreciate them. For example, when looking at their business process performance, 77% of IT executives estimate their overall performance as somewhat better or much better than the competition. This is significantly above the normal 50% average and highlights a clear, statistically demonstratable overestimation of performance.

But responsibilities are increasing. Fifty-five percent of CIOs apply influence they gained during the pandemic to expand their role by adding new responsibilities in areas such as intelligence, privacy, innovation, transformation, safety, sustainability, or resilience.

A minority of CIOs have established a stronger relationship with their CEO (16%) or have gained recognition as a business leader (18%). As the digital revolution accelerates further intertwining of business and IT, rising to a business leader is the only path forward for most CIOs.

Making IT Count

CIOs have constantly sought to deliver the largest and most numerous contributions from IT activities but, more than ever, they must now choose their battles and focus their efforts on helping the business deliver differentiated business outcomes.

The IT group’s most important business impacts across the organization are enabling it to respond more quickly to change (cited by 85% of respondents) and taking the business online, virtual, and contactless (84%). To do this, the IT organization must apply that differentiated approach in the current context of uncertainty and volatility:

  • Survey respondents think that Agile portfolio management brings the most impactful business outcomes (45% of respondents).
  • Value stream mapping remains a highly effective approach (35%) as it helps identify where customer value is added and where it’s consumed.
  • CIOs need to focus on simplification of  business processes with increased self-service options (44%) and set an automation-first initiative aiming to improve all business-critical systems (35%).

Be Practical

For Future CIOs, navigating the winds of change requires a new approach — no longer is more and faster a viable approach. Now, a focus on high-impact initiatives with discerning business outcomes is the key:

  • Get closer to customers. IT executives stay as far as they can away from customers, partners, LOB executives, or the CMO, spending less than 12% of their interactions with any of these stakeholders. They spend far more of their time with the IT leadership team (43%), the CTO (42%), and the CEO (35%).
  • Automate. On average, 40% of business processes have been automated, with IT being the most automated (42%). However, IT executives estimate that finance and supply chain will take over in the next three years (43% and 42%, respectively).
  • Care for people. Retaining talent has always been a hallmark of strong leaders; now it is a differentiating leadership trait crucial to the success of an IT organization. And the best way to boost motivation and retention is by providing more opportunities to work with and learn from the business (cited by 29% of respondents). While still valued, salary and bonus incentives seem to have a lower impact (24%).


IDC’s CIO Sentiment Survey 2022 has disproven the old age, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Digital business has demonstrably become a worldwide phenomenon with opportunities and inevitable challenges, for customers, employees, and organization leaders — but none more so than CIOs. To discover more strategies CIOs need to plan for contingencies and technologies to create a dependable infrastructure that enables fault tolerance, read IDC’s new eBook, CIO Sentiment Survey: Finding the North Star in a Turbulent Environment. Click the button below to download the eBook now.

Serge Findling is Vice President of Research with IDC's IT Executive Programs (IEP) and the CIO Agenda program. Serge focuses on digital transformation leadership for business and technology executives. He also manages IDC's Information and Data Transformation practice, helping organizations successfully weather and capitalize on the changes brought about by today's disruptive transformation in information management.