2015 State of the CIO: The Good, the Bad and the Scary

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CIO.com's survey of IT executives reveals some forward movement, disconnects with business leaders and a puzzling take on security. Here are a few highlights, plus a link to download the State of the CIO report.

Each year, CIO.com’s research team surveys hundreds of CIOs to provide you with our State of the CIO report – a barometer of your hopes, dreams and fears (OK, that may be overstating things, but it does provide a benchmark of the business and technology climate). This year (our 14th), 558 top IT leaders responded to an online survey to help us gauge the industry and technology trends as they apply to the CIO role (check out Kim Nash's insightful feature story on this year's results).

The results are a combination of encouraging, sobering and thought-provoking.

The Good Stuff

On the encouraging side, 68 percent of CIOs said that they have mutually shared, measurable goals with other c-level executives. More than three-quarters of CIOs say they expect to collaborate on a business initiative with CFOs, COOs, CMOs and other C-level executives.

[ State of the CIO: Research Slideshow ]

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Sixty-four percent of CIOs say their CEO consults with them on a frequent basis regarding business strategy. And while money isn't everything, there's good news there as well. Average compensation increased to 235,000 after five relatively flat years at around $219,000.

Business and Tech Don't See Eye-to-Eye

The sobering news, however, comes when we look at how our CIOs perceive themselves compared to respondents in IDC’s LOB of Sentiment Survey. Thirty-three percent of CIOs believe other departments see the IT department as an obstacle to their goals. Meanwhile, of the 304 business leaders surveyed by IDC answering a similar question, 54 percent say the IT group is an obstacle to their mission.

Nearly half (47 percent) of the business leaders surveyed by IDC said CIOs are fighting a turf war with other C-level executives. Just 36 percent of CIOs see battles raging. Perhaps most troubling: 37 percent of business decisions-makers say the CIO is being sidelined in their company. However, only 20 percent of our survey respondents see CIOs sitting it out on the sidelines (see the chart below for more on these differing views of the CIO role).

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Two views of the CIO role. (Click to enlarge image.)

Other results were consistent with what you probably already thought as well as a little scary. Saying there is an IT skills gap is hardly headline-grabbing news. But our respondents confirmed the daunting IT hiring reality facing tech leaders.

As if the CIO role weren’t challenging enough. IT leaders are also fighting a war for tech talent. Fifty-six percent of CIOs expect to experience IT skills shortages in the next 12 months. The three most challenging areas are big data/business intelligence and analytics, followed by security/risk management. Application developer and mobile technologies pros tied for the third spot.

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Click the download link on the right for the Executive Summary.

The scary part involves security. Not surprisingly, CEOs are pushing CIOs harder on the data security front. In 2014, security was No. 8 on the CEO's top priorities list. However, in 2015 it jumps to the fourth spot.

What's troubling is that despite security disasters at retailers such as Target (see Target CIO Resignation Puts Retail CIOs on Alert) and Home Depot (see Home Depot Says 53 Million Email Addresses Compromised During Breach), CIOs in the retail industry are less likely to give security top priority than CIOs in some other industries (see Retailers Seem Less Concerned About Data Security)

Overall, 23 percent of CIOs say that increasing cybersecurity will be the most significant reason for IT investments this year. However, only 18 percent of the CIOs in the retail, wholesale and distribution industries see security the same way, In contrast, 41 percent of CIOs in high-tech said security will drive spending.

So how do we sum up State of the CIO? As always, it's complicated. 

More importantly, though, how do you sum up the State of the CIO? Download and check out the executive summary. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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