Why CIO Tenures in Australia are Getting Shorter

For its CIO Agenda, Gartner conducts a major survey of more than 2,500 CIOs every year where CIOs are asked how long they have been in their current role. CIOs globally reported in 2013 that they had been working where they were currently for 4.6 years and in Australia, the average was at 4.2 years. While the global average had gone up to 4.48 years in the most recent 2018 survey, in Australia it had dropped significantly to 3.42 years. Australian CIOs in the 2013 edition of the survey said they expected to be in the same role for another 3.3 years. This year, they had hopes of sticking around for, on average, for only another 1.7 years.

Transformative times

According to experts, the widespread appetite for digital transformation among Australian businesses is one of the biggest factors in the tumbling tenure trend locally. To remain relevant and successful, businesses need to rapidly digitise core platforms, processes, and the customer experience. Those that do transform can ensure productivity improvements, increased profit margins, and cost reductions as a result.

These transformational efforts have stepped up and swept across Australia over the past couple of years, hence the CIO career movement we are seeing in the local market. An exciting time of transformation and business model reimagination in Australia has brought about an abundance of opportunity to transformational leaders. But equally with any change opportunity, comes disruption.

The availability of opportunities in the market means that CIOs can more easily make the switch to another company. To truly transform a new business from traditional silos into a future-ready state, many a transformation CIO can be lured from their current CIO position. These mandates are often hard to refuse as they are career-defining not just from an IT leadership perspective but also a great trajectory for those aspiring for CEO roles in the future.

Changes in the market, increasing business demands and trends in technology have led to a faster shift in the market. IT professionals are quickly moving from a CIO role in one organisation to another.

Stabilisation coming

Australian organisations are somewhat behind the US, China and Europe when it comes to digitally transform their businesses according to some analysts. They see digitisation as something that has to happen and they are going to start making their changes quickly. The digital transformation of Australian companies has been characterised elsewhere as “lagging behind” overseas efforts, and “too slow”.

Since the big digital overhauls have already happened in those markets, CIO tenures are dilating as a result. The same is predicted to happen here too. With regards to digital and transformational initiatives, more mature markets like the USA and UK are in some cases ahead of Australia and in the next phase of change, where the heavy lifting and major disruptive phase has already taken place, and they are experiencing more stability and as such CIO’s in other markets are enjoying slightly longer tenures. CIOs will start to follow a global trend over the coming years as the stabilisation of these programs in Australia occurs, as it has in other mature markets.

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