rob fraser

CIOs will need to change their role and behaviour to adapt to the new digital demands placed on them by customers and colleagues, says Rob Fraser, former IT Director of retail giants J Sainsbury’s.

Fraser will speak frankly about his experiences from within the digitally disrupted world of supermarket retail and his renewed perspective on the need to lead digital transformation at an exclusive CIO Plus networking event on Thursday January 29th in London.

“The expectations are that things can be done in a better way,” Fraser told CIO UK in preparation for the event.

“CIOs tend to be process centric in their approach and IT departments deal well with that. But the new demands are fuzzy and therefore not that easy for IT and the wider business to plan for,” Fraser says of the disruption that digital technologies and behaviour patterns are having on organisations in a wider range of sectors.

At the exclusive CIO Plus event, only open to CIO members, Fraser will argue that digital disruption is changing the way that IT and the business engage with each other.

“Fixed roadmaps are no longer viable. Your strategy is now forged by what goes on outside your of the organisation,” he says.

Fraser, who’s led IT for Boots as well as Sainsbury’s believes the current wave of digital appointments at major organisations, is a major turning point for today’s CIOs.

“The CIO behaviour model is still stuck to security and return on capital, but in five year’s time you’ll be working for CDO as an Opps Director. The IT function must change. We all dreamed of being this central. The visionary person will become more central,” he says of the challenge to the today’s business technology leaders.

Fraser will discuss with attending CIOs how they have to shift their priorities towards a minimum focus on new digital initiatives to at least a third. This event is also an opportunity to discuss how and why CIOs should reset the governance and budgeting of IT.

Consultant Gareth Lloyd will also join the debate to explore the opportunities for a digitally led CIO career.

The retail sector has been the clearest example to CIOs and to the man in the street of the power of the digital revolution sweeping through modern commerce and society. Blockbuster and Woolworths have moved from brand names to icons of failure in the face of digital rivals. Amazon meanwhile has become the definition of online commerce and a poster child for how fast an online business can grow.

Over the last 12 months the pace of the digital revolution has increased and a wider number of markets are being disrupted by online startups into once secure vertical markets. Not only are new entrants challenging market incumbents, but a large scale change in society and its consumption habits is proving equally disruptive.

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