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Female CIOs prioritize digital initiatives higher than male counterparts


Companies with women leading the information technology team are apparently ahead of the curve when it comes to digital innovation investments. At the very least, they appear to be spending more money on same, according to some newly published research.

Research firm Gartner’s latest survey of CIO priorities finds that females holding that title prioritize predictive analytics rather than analysis of historical data higher than their male counterparts. That’s especially true if they report to the CEO rather than the CFO.

The same was also the case for digital marketing initiatives: among women, this was the third highest priority; for men it was the sixth most important area, Gartner reports.

“While it’s not entirely clear why this difference exists, further survey data indicates that female CIOs are more concerned about underinvestment in risk initiatives than males CIOs,” said Gartner fellow Tina Nunno in a statement.

The findings come from the 2015 Gartner CIO Agenda survey, representing more than $397 billion in annual spending on information technology and services. Of the 2,810 respondents, approximately 13.6% were women.

Generally speaking, the female CIOs surveyed by Gartner anticipated bigger budget increases over the new 12 months. On average, they expect increases of 2.4%, compared with the 0.8% growth projected by the male IT leaders. One possible rationale is women are more risk-averse, which in this case winds up being a potential advantage because they’re more inclined to want to protect revenue.

“The risk data, combined with budget numbers, may indicate that female CIOs are more focused on the resource side of the digital equation than their male peers and are, therefore, requesting and accumulating more IT budget money,” Nunno writes in her comments.

What does it take to be successful? The first step involves defining what digital means to a company’s industry sector—and taking stock of what disruption is already taking place. McKinsey’s consulting team is running a month-long series of articles meant to help business leaders improve their “digital quotient.” This excerpt crystalizes how organizations can get started:

Companies get their digital strategy right by answering three important questions. First, where will the most interesting digital opportunities and threats open up? Second, how quickly and on what scale is the digital disruption like to occur? Third, what are the best responses to embrace these opportunities and to reallocate resources away from the biggest threats.

“CEOs like to spin up edge projects. If they succeed, they then can become core to the business,” said Andy Main, the U.S. practice leader for Deloitte Digital. “From there, you need to become agile, remove the red tape, and build a group that is supercharged.”

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