Innovating Through a Minefield

Understanding how to deal with common obstacles can help IT leaders pave the way to innovation excellence.


Like most changes, investing in innovation looks easy on paper. But CIOs looking to keep pace with the never-ending wave of opportunities face a host of familiar obstacles. The top challenges, according to this year’s CIO Survey, are budget constraints, cited by 52 percent of the respondents, and difficulties finding qualified staff, cited by 38 percent. A deeper dive into the data, however, reveals some interesting conclusions suggesting that these obstacles are not insurmountable.

The good news: Even though a lack of innovation budget presents challenges, it does not necessarily hinder innovation. After all, the interconnectedness of disruptive technologies requires CIOs to map and anticipate the consequences of technology investment decisions. Success is a matter of identifying meaningful opportunities and taking steps that both align with organizational goals and set the stage for innovative action.

The results also shine a bright light on the difficult issue of finding qualified staff. This challenge has definitely spurred an increased need for partners that can fill in the gaps while simultaneously providing access to best-of-breed solutions and leading-edge technology. This is especially important as organizations focus on innovation, because strategic partners can hit the ground running, staffed and tooled to dramatically improve time to value. On the flip side, bringing your own staff up to speed can mean higher training costs, quality concerns and lower production.

Interestingly, advanced analytics can also prove instrumental in overcoming this particular hurdle, enabling you to build, attract and retain qualified staff in pivotal areas. Specifically, investing in HR analytics can help identify gaps in core skills and skill development. For instance, when IT empowers HR with access to data analytics, team members with the skills or aptitude best aligned with specific project requirements can be rapidly identified and leveraged. This is true whether it involves opening a new location or developing the next iteration of the organization’s flagship offering.

If you have the right perspective and enough determination, few obstacles can permanently derail your innovation efforts. And when you get it right, obstacles turn into stepping stones to success.

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