State of the CIO 2017: The new reality

The CIO role is integral to today's increasingly digital businesses, but transformational IT executives aren't necessarily shedding their functional responsibilities — get used to it.

1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2

One functional responsibility that CIOs don't expect to spend less time on in the future is security management: 26 percent of the respondents to this year's survey said they expect to devote more time to that task in the next three to five years, up from 21 percent in last year's survey.


Improving customer experience, increasing operational efficiency and transforming business processes will be among CIOs' top priorities this year, though the first two have declined in importance since last year. Asked to name business initiatives that will drive IT investments, 40 percent of respondents cited improving customer experience, down from 45 percent last year; 35 percent chose increasing operational efficiency, down from 46 percent in 2016; and 34 percent named transforming business processes, up from 25 percent.


(Click for larger image.)

CEOs' top objectives for their CIOs remain consistent with last year: Helping to drive corporate revenue growth and upgrading IT security infrastructure were at the forefront. Security, in particular, is still a hot topic and a hotbed of activity in light of the recent high-profile cyberattacks.

Security and IT strategies continue to dovetail more closely: 51 percent of respondents to this year's survey described the two as tightly integrated, compared to 37 percent last year. Security also represents a healthy share of IT spending, accounting for 11.58 percent of the average IT budget this year, which is about the same as in 2016. More executives are getting involved with security -- 81 percent of CIOs and 66 percent of business executives this year said they are more involved in security initiatives than they have been in the past.

Beyond the security and revenue growth mandates, CEOs are also tasking CIOs with fostering partnerships with business executives -- 17 percent of the CIOs polled said collaborating with the CMO or chief digital officer (CDO) was a major directive from their CEOs. And 46 percent of the CIOs responding to the survey described the CMO-CIO relationship as much or somewhat closer than it had been a year earlier.

Tech investments


(Click for larger image.)

To get all of this work done, companies are making a variety of technology investments, with big data/business analytics and cloud computing capabilities grabbing top billing: 33 percent of respondents named big data/analytics and 28 cited the cloud when asked what tech initiatives will drive IT investments at their organizations.

Analytics ranks high on the agenda at Haggar Clothing, which hopes to make better use of data to drive a more personalized, richer customer experience, says David Walsh, vice president of technology at the men's apparel company. "We're collecting a wealth of data, and we're not getting all of the value out of it that we can," says Walsh. "Data is coming to us faster and faster, and the window we have to respond is getting smaller and smaller. We need to understand what's going on across all of our customers -- that's the chore."

Despite the emphasis CIOs place on improving customer experience, the 2017 State of the CIO survey indicates that spending on technologies to achieve that goal will decline: 20 percent of respondents said customer experience initiatives are driving IT spending, compared to 27 percent last year. The gap could indicate that companies have already made IT purchases in this area and are now in the throes of deployment, or that another department (such as marketing) has taken ownership of that piece of the technology stack.

While cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and wearables generate lots of hoopla, they account for only a fraction of the IT budget. For example, only 13 percent of this year's respondents said that they're investing in mobile application development, and even smaller numbers are making purchases related to machine learning and cognitive systems (5 percent), AI (4 percent), virtual reality/augmented reality (2 percent) and wearables (1 percent).

Struggles ahead

Business alignment isn't the only organizational challenge confronting CIOs in 2017.

The share of respondents who said they feel that IT is scapegoated by other departments rose to 58 percent this year from 54 percent last year. Moreover, CIOs continue to face turf battles as they duke it out for technology control: 26 percent of the IT leaders polled this year said they agreed that the CIO is being "sidelined" in their organizations -- a viewpoint shared by just 15 percent of business executives. Moreover, 36 percent of CIOs said they believe that people in other departments see IT as an obstacle to the corporate mission, while 31 percent of business executives agreed with that sentiment.

The ongoing talent crunch is another thorn in the side of CIOs. Last year, 49 percent of respondents to the State of the CIO survey said they expected to face challenges related to an IT skills shortage in the coming 12 months; that number rose to 60 percent this year. Just like last year, CIOs expect it to be most difficult to fill jobs related to big data/data science/business intelligence and security: 38 percent of respondents cited big data and 30 percent chose security when asked to name the areas in which it will be hardest to find IT professionals with the necessary skills. Other IT pros with in-demand skills may not be as hard to come by: Just 16 percent of respondents said they expect to have trouble finding people with mobile expertise, and 15 percent said DevOps specialists will be in short supply.

A third dimension

Moving forward, CIOs envision a third dimension being added to their bimodal role: Manager of outside services. Slightly more than half (51 percent) of CIOs surveyed and 48 percent of business executives said future CIOs will have to manage contractors, cloud vendors and IT service providers.

As part manager, part strategist and part agent of transformation, the CIO will continue to wear multiple hats. "It's the new reality, but it's very positive," says Todd Finders, CIO of the Commercial and Residential Solutions group of Emerson Electric. "Technology has never been more important to the business, so we can do more if we do our jobs right."

This story, "State of the CIO 2017: The new reality" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2
The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022