Selling to the CIO

How to market to CIOs around the world

Is your marketing scope region-specific? If so, it’s important to tailor your messaging – their priorities, responsibilities, and challenges may be very different in North America, EMEA or APAC.

Explore the key research findings from North AmericaEurope, and Asia-Pacific from our 2023 State of the CIO study to better understand the regional differences between CIO roles for insight on how to sell and engage with CIOs in different parts of the world.

Do technology budget expectations differ by region?

Overall, 56% of IT executives expect their IT budgets to increase in 2023, while 35% expect their budgets to remain the same and only 9% expect a decrease. Looking at budget expectations for CIOs in North America, 50% expect an increase, 41% expect them to remain the same and 9% expect a decrease. The number one reason for an increase is the need for security improvements, so marketers targeting North America CIOs should make sure security is covered in their content.


Looking at CIOs in EMEA, 64% expect an increase in their technology budgets in 2023, 26% expect them to remain the same and 10% expect a decrease. The top reason for a budget increase is for modernizing applications, so clearly North America and EMEA organizations are at slightly different stages of their technology stack and need specific types of content related to what they are focused on.


And then there are CIOs in APAC. Their technology budget expectations are in the middle of North America and EMEA CIOs – 58% expect an increase, 32% expect them to remain the same and 9% expect a decrease. Their number one reason for an increase is to upgrade their outdated IT infrastructure, which is slightly similar to that of EMEA CIOs. Based on these results, it would appear that North America CIOs are slightly more ahead in their technology advancements as they now focus on security and EMEA and APAC are still in the updating phase.

Explore the role of the CIO in North America

How does the CIO role change by region?

We know that the role of the CIO is to oversee the technology strategy and operations of an organization, so of course this would differ by region if they are in different stages of advancing their technology strategy. Despite where they are in their journey, one aspect that is very similar by region is their role within digital transformation. More than three-quarters (82%) of CIOs in North America say that they are more involved in leading digital transformation initiatives compared to their business counterparts. This is 84% for EMEA CIOs and 87% of APAC CIOs. Additionally, 83% of NA CIOs say that their role is becoming more digital and innovation focused, compared to 85% of EMEA CIOs and 90% of APAC CIOs. From the budget expectations, we know that IT decision-makers in EMEA and APAC are more focused on technology modernization which may explain why they currently feel they are more involved in digital transformation.

No matter the part of the world, the CIO is becoming a changemaker – increasingly leading business and technology initiatives. Eighty-four percent of CIOs in North America, 85% of CIOs in EMEA and 88% of CIOs in APAC feel this way. This ties into the elevation of the CIO role – three-quarters of CIOs in North America say that the CIO role has been elevated due to the current state of the economy and believe that this visibility is expected to continue.

When this was asked to APAC CIOs, 86% of them agree and it declined slightly to 71% for EMEA CIOs. Regardless of where the CIO resides and where their organization is located, the CIO role is becoming more and more prominent within the business and their leadership is valued and relied upon to advance the business. Hear from CIOs as they share their take on CIO’s yearly research and how their role is evolving.

Learn about CIOs in EMEA

Who does the CIO collaborate with in each region?

In North America, EMEA and APAC, the CIO primarily reports to the CEO which shows that they have high stature within the organization as they have a direct line of communication with the business. CIOs in EMEA and APAC are slightly more likely to report to a corporate CIO (15% APAC and 19% EMEA versus 9% North America).

The CIO is also working more closely with certain business departments this year, and there are some slight differences by region. North America CIOs expect to work more closely with executive-level administration (61%), operations (54%), finance/accounting (38%), risk management/compliance (34%), and engineering (27%). These are also the departments that EMEA CIOs plan to work more closely with except with the addition of marketing and engineering is not as high on the list. There are greater differences among APAC CIOs – they plan to work more closely with operations, executive-level administration, risk management/compliance, engineering and research and development.

Being aware of these departments that the CIO is actively collaborating with throughout the day helps marketers better understand the projects that the IT team is working on and some job titles that they are working with throughout the decision-making process.

How is the CIO involved in revenue-generating tasks by region?

The majority of global CIOs (68%) say that the creation of new revenue-generating initiatives is among their job responsibilities – 44% say they manage the team tasked with this and 24% say they are part of the team tasked with this. Looking by region, only 60% of CIOs in North America say they are tasked with the creation of revenue-generating initiatives compared to 73% for APAC CIOs and 75% for EMEA CIOs.

Looking at what their organization is doing to become more revenue-driven, North America CIOs say automating business and/or IT processes which is where we see the rise of AI and machine learning tools come into play, followed by creating new products and services and reporting on the value that IT provides. CIOs in North America are also much more likely to say that they will have weekly/monthly meetings with their executive leadership in order to become more revenue driven.

EMEA CIOs also say that their organization is automating business and/or IT processes, followed by creating new products and services and making their data more available. These are also the top three revenue-generating initiatives that APAC organizations are focused on.

Are there regional differences for the CIO’s focus and priorities?

When asked the question, which of the following activities best characterizes your focus and how you spend your time in your current role, security management, improving IT operations/systems performance, aligning IT initiatives with business goals, modernizing infrastructure and applications, and cultivating the IT/business partnership are the top five activities for global CIOs. We see that these activities do not vary much by region.

In the next three years, the majority of CIOs no matter the region hope to focus more on driving business innovation. EMEA and North America CIOs plan to be slightly more focused on redesigning business processes compared to APAC CIOs, while APAC CIOs expect to spend more time identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation and developing new go-to-market strategies and technologies.

While these are the initiatives that CIOs are currently focusing on and hope to focus more on in the future, there are also priorities that the CEO has for IT. Overall, these are to strengthen IT and business collaboration, upgrade IT and data security to reduce corporate risk and improve the customer experience. There is a slight difference here as CIOs in North America report that their CEO’s top priority for IT is to upgrade IT and data security to reduce corporate risk, which is no surprise given that security updates are the main reason for tech budget increases in this region. In both EMEA and APAC, CIOs say that their CEO wants them to strengthen IT and business collaboration. This also aligns with the fact that these regions were more focused on application modernization and updating IT infrastructure – it may take more partnership with their business counterparts to move forward with these initiatives.

Who is the CIO in APAC?

How are regional CIOs increasing their involvement in certain areas?

Security remains a constant theme as 70% of global CIOs anticipate their involvement in cybersecurity will increase over the next year. These results vary just slightly by region – 71% for North America CIOs, 66% APAC CIOs and 77% EMEA CIOs.

Along the same lines as security, CIOs expect to be more involved in data privacy/compliance over the next year. About half (53%) of CIOs in North America feel this way, followed by 60% for APAC CIOs and 50% for those in EMEA.

There is a lot of talk around the globe about environmental, social and governance (ESG) regulations. Only 35% of North America CIOs expect their involvement to increase in this area in the next year, however this increases to 58% for APAC CIOs and is 60% for EMEA CIOs.

AI and machine learning are also widely talked about technology projects. Close to half (49%) of North America CIOs expect their involvement in AI/ML to increase over the next year, and this is even larger for those in EMEA (59%) and APAC (60%).

As CIOs become more involved in revenue generating activities, it makes sense that they expect to be more involved in customer experience over the next year – 50% for NA and EMEA CIOs, and 58% for those in APAC.

There are a few takeaways marketers should be aware of with these increases in involvement. First, just because a CIO says their involvement isn’t increasing as much as another region does not mean that they are not involved in these initiatives, it may mean that they have already established involvement in these areas and expect that involvement to remain the same for the time being. Second, these differences by region indicate that marketers need to tailor their messaging and content to the areas that their audience is focused on if they have regional marketing responsibilities. These are all important factors to consider when learning how to market to CIOs around the world.

Looking to engage CIOs globally online?

Do technology initiatives differ by region?

When trying to grasp how to market to CIOs around the world, it’s first important to understand their technology initiatives. In North America, the technology initiatives that are driving the most IT investment for 2023 are security/risk management, data/business analytics, application/legacy systems modernization, cloud infrastructure, and machine learning/artificial intelligence. We continue to see security as a top priority for CIOs in North America, especially as to why their tech budgets are increasing, so it is not a surprise that it is the number one technology initiative driving IT investments.

These technology initiatives are also driving the most IT investment in EMEA, however the order is slightly different. Machine learning/artificial intelligence is the second investment driver, followed by data/business analytics, application/legacy systems modernization, and cloud infrastructure.

There is more difference in the technology initiatives that are driving IT investment in APAC. Leading the list is data/business analytics, then security/risk management, customer experience technologies, machine learning/artificial intelligence, and IT/OT convergence.

Although these differences are not drastic, they still show that there are regional differences between CIO roles across the world, and that they are focused on slightly different technologies and therefore will be more focused on specific vendors and educational content throughout the year. No matter which region you are marketing your technology to, there are certain tactics to use when selling to the CIO and it’s important to continuously provide this customer base with valuable resources.

How do business initiatives differ by region?

There are also a handful of business initiatives that CIOs say are driving the most IT investment at their organization. For CIOs in North America, these include increasing operational efficiency, increasing cybersecurity protections, transforming business processes, improving the customer experience, and improving profitability. All of which relate to their technology initiatives and where they are currently focusing their time.

Business initiatives driving IT investments in EMEA are slightly different with the top being increasing cybersecurity protections, increasing operational efficiency, transforming existing business processes, improving the customer experience, and developing new digital revenue streams.

The business initiatives driving IT investments in APAC are much more similar to those in North America. APAC CIOs report increasing cybersecurity protections, increasing operational efficiency, improving the customer experience, transforming business processes, and improving profitability to be the top five business initiatives expected to drive IT investments in 2023.

It’s essential to be aware of these initiatives that CIOs are focused on in the region that you are responsible for marketing towards as they will determine the technologies they invest in and who they collaborate with throughout the process.

When learning how to market to CIOs around the world, there are likely some key differences in IT leadership and the priorities and goals of their organization by region. Be sure your marketing content aligns with where your customers are. Check out our 2023 State of the CIO regional infographics (for APAC, EMEA, and North America) for additional information.

What business initiatives are driving the most IT investment across the globe?

Operational efficiency rises to the top for North America CIOs, while cybersecurity protections is number one for APAC and EMEA CIOs. These are important differences to consider to best market to CIOs across the world.

Contact us to learn more about how to reach and engage this CIO audience: