How emerging market CIOs can add a fresh dimension

ey cio blog - podding peasContrary to what some antiglobalization activists might have you believe, being a multinational company doesn’t bring you an endless stream of advantages over local competitors. But where they do have advantages, multinationals must make the most of them if they want to thrive.


I believe that one of the biggest benefits of globalization is the opening up of access to an exciting new talent base.

CIOs working in emerging markets often display a different set of characteristics from their developed market peers, and this creates huge potential for adding value in a global organization.

EY’s recent Born to be digital report looked at the characteristics typically displayed by those CIOs that are taking the lead in driving their organizations toward digital transformation. Across IT-intensive industries, emerging market CIOs often displayed those characteristics more obviously than CIOs based in developed markets — and in a range of areas:

  • They are more strategy focused. Almost two-thirds of emerging market CIOs (64%) are highly engaged in using technology to reshape their business for the future, compared with only 50% of developed market CIOs.
  • They see greater value in innovation than operations. Only 55% of emerging market CIOs view operational technology as a priority, compared with 73% of CIOs in developed markets. However, when asked where they add value to their businesses, they are much more likely to point to talents such as product innovation (60% versus 40%).
  • They have different concerns. Emerging market CIOs worry about how to challenge a culture that inhibits innovation, while developed market CIOs’ chief anxiety is how to cope with limited resources.
  • They’re very focused on networking. Emerging market CIOs are much more likely to stress the need to improve their relationships — both with colleagues at all levels and with third parties, ranging from regulators to the media.
  • They’re more ambitious. Emerging market CIOs are twice as likely as developed market CIOs to say they want to move into a bigger role (38% versus 19%).

What are the main lessons we can take from these findings? The most important is that, in this global market for highly skilled IT executives, a more diverse range of talents, skills and experience is available today than ever before. The point isn’t that staff in emerging markets are better than their developed market counterparts; it is just that they may offer a different dimension from many organizations.

This increasing diversity is good news for employers. But to make the best of the deeper and wider talent pool, organizations will need to keep a very open mind when working on recruitment and retention.


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