2010 State of the CIO: Today's Focus for IT Departments - Business Opportunities

The recession has deepened CIO understanding of and commitment to business beyond IT. It's not just about installing BI tools or upgrading ERP, but about working side by side with other company leaders to build IT into new goods and services.

Thu, December 17, 2009

CIO — You thought you knew what business-IT alignment was.

But fighting the dark forces of recession has really taught the lesson. To some of you, anyway.

At a truly aligned company, all cylinders firing, every executive, every manager, every employee works on one goal: winning customers. In the past, CIOs saw their role as, say, installing business intelligence tools so that the marketing group could analyze customer data. Or upgrading enterprise resource planning software for the supply chain guys to improve order fulfillment. Vital work, of course, but inwardly focused and a few steps removed from living, breathing, money-spending customers.

But now, we find in our 2010 State of the CIO survey, top technology executives increasingly see bringing home the bacon as their job, too.

Check out the 2010 State of the CIO Survey Data and the 2010 State of the CIO Survey Results
Read more: Tools for Leading Business Change and The Future-State CIO Starts Here.
Also see: Business Strategists Gain Ground.

This year, nearly one third—30 percent—of the 594 IT leaders we polled say meeting or beating business goals is a personal leadership competency critically needed by their organizations, up significantly from the 18 percent who said so last year. Eighteen percent also named "external customer focus" as a critical skill, double last year's 9 percent. Double.

Meanwhile, 22 percent cited "identifying and seizing on commercial opportunities"—more than triple last year's 6 percent. Yes, triple.

It's clear the recession has deepened CIOs' understanding of and commitment to business beyond IT. CIOs are interacting with customers directly and working side by side with product engineers to build IT into new goods and services. It isn't every CIO, nor even most of you, but it's the way the profession is going, says Chris Potts, corporate strategist at Dominic Barrow, a consulting firm in London.

Shifting attention to outside the company will kill the CIO job as we know it, Potts says. "The CIO role is going away from worrying about IT specifically," Potts says. "It can't happen too soon."

Focus on the Top Line

While aligning IT initiatives with business goals continues to be the most frequently cited CIO activity in our survey, fewer CIOs than in previous years place it among the activities taking up most of their time: 64 percent, down from 71 percent last year and 82 percent two years ago. Hilton Sturisky, SVP for information and communciation technology with the $14 billion BCD Travel, thinks that's because progressive CIOs have made such headway in the past few years that they can turn attention elsewhere.

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