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Changing dynamics of the Asian C-suite

Article, Lilia Guan, CIO Tech Asia

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CIOs must have the full support of CEOs in an ever changing technology driven world.

Regardless of countries and cultural differences, CEOs will have to get used to all types of needs for change in much shorter cycles – technologies evolve fast and permeate all businesses, everywhere. 2021 brings the challenge of a new way of operating companies.

Rewind to last year and CEOs across a spectrum of industries were experimenting with digital solutions and ramping up cyber security. Here in Asia, digital development has typically followed the US and the EU rather than spearheading the trend. Technology was long seen as a back-office support function rather than the backbone of an organisation.

Now, every company that wants to remain competitive must scale up its tech functions across all departments, to sell its products and services, offer its customers an immersive experience and engage its workforce. Tech is transforming the way people shop, pay and manage their health.

It’s clear that there will be an app for everything in the coming months. In Asia, the revolution is in full throttle, from developed markets like Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong to emerging markets like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India.

According to global recruitment firm Page Executive’s latest report, Digital is the New Normal, businesses are choosing to structure their digital and technology teams differently, recognising that digital should sit in technology.

Asia is traditionally a face-to-face culture, but this is rapidly changing, said Sonal Nayyar, principal at Page Executive. “The CEO who once measured team engagement by office hours, must adapt to a work-from-home, school-from-home culture. It’s a double-edged sword… teams that once endured long commutes have extra time and energy to spend working, but work-life balance is proving complex.”

Nayyar notes that today’s CEO in Asia must be decisive and adaptable.

“No CEO is an island,” she said. “Today’s business leaders must be prepared to take advice and listen, in close collaboration with their CEO and CIO. These are challenging times for everyone, and there are often more questions than answers. Savvy leaders will open their minds, invest in tech, and people, and move over to online platforms and apps – to take a company to the next level.”

According to the report:

  • There has been a big drive in the sector for more diversity, with a clear focus on female technologists
  • Finding technologists that worked in business services environments has also been a focus
  • There has been a shift in what CIOs are looking for from a position, including taking on more CEO responsibilities
  • There has been a rise in the role of Chief Digital Information Officers (CDIO)
  • More than ever, CEOs are better enabling their digital technology leaders to excel in response to the rapid change in the market and to drive business continuity

Tom Ferguson, partner at Page Executive, believes businesses need to continue to back their digital technology leaders and show investment, particularly in the current landscape.

“When a client advises me their CIOs, CDO, or CDIO has done a bad job. I ask why they have?”

“Typically, it is down to a lack of investment and organisations are at fault for not enabling their digital technology leaders,” he said.

 

 

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