What are CIOs Facing in the Current Market?

The CIOs role has always been a challenging one with high business expectations. A role that, due to past economic conditions, was inclined to be more functional at times has developed into having a strategic and transformational focus with initiatives to increase business innovation by aligning IT and business. As the role transforms, there is still a need for balance between innovation and keeping IT operations humming along efficiently and securely. This balance continues to present challenges for CIOs, according to CIO magazine’s recent State of the CIO Survey.

The majority of CIOs are business leaders, or at least partners, in driving business forward, given that 64% sit on their company’s executive committee. The intersection of IT and business is one full of opportunity; however, business success can take on different meanings for different groups. While there are commonalities between CIOs and Line of Business (LOB), there are also some disconnects between what CIOs think are the top business drivers for IT investments versus for what LOB actually need technology. CIOs and LOB are on the same page regarding the top two drivers: optimizing business processes and increasing productivity; however, there are some marked differences after that. For instance, CIOs may think that introducing new and improved products is a top driver, but LOB sees it as less of a reason to invest. CIOs see increasing agility as highly important whereas LOB sees it almost at the other extreme.

Another trend adding to the difficulty of the CIO role is the war for talent. The majority of CIOs expect to experience IT skills shortages in the next 12 months. The skillsets hardest to find include data scientists, security professionals, and application development/programming.

While CIOs plan to collaborate with other C-Suite executives on a variety of different projects in the coming year, the majority of tech budgets are still controlled by IT. Only 34% of the total dollars invested in tech is not directly controlled by IT.

Looking ahead, CIOs would like to shift even more of their time to focus on strategic business activities including those that contribute directly to revenue growth. With the transformation of the role trending in this direction, it’s expected in the next 3-5 years that more and more CIOs will be business leaders – driving, not just enabling, innovation and competitive advantage.

Source: State of the CIO Survey, CIO magazine, January 2015


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