by Byron Connolly

State of the CIO 2013

Sep 26, 2013 3 mins
Careers Innovation IT Leadership

Innovation is a hot topic for CIOs but many are still at least a few years away from achieving their goals, according to responses for our State of the CIO survey 2013.

Now in its 12th year, the survey is conducted annually to understand how the role of the CIO continues to evolve. This year, the largest portion of respondents (22.7 per cent) work for organisations with gross annual revenue of $100 to $500 million.

A CIO’s ability to innovate was clearly in the frame this year, as well as investments made or being made in key areas such as business intelligence and analytics, cloud computing, data management, mobility, and social media.

Big data, while increasingly prevalent in the headlines, was another focus for half of those surveyed, although the same percentage are not engaging in projects to improve their capabilities in this area.

The full results are being published in the September/October issue of CIO Australia but here’s a snapshot of some interesting findings from our research.

For many CIOs, developing new, innovative products is a challenge, particularly when they are spending a significant amount of time dealing with operational issues and aligning IT with business goals.

This was reflected in their choice of priorities, with 77.4 per cent of respondents indicating that improving their firm’s ability to innovate is either a high or critical priority.

However, fixing major problems with system operations is still at the top of the CIO’s list when it comes to actions they have taken in the past 12 months to improve their department’s relationship with the rest of the business.

Ewan Perrin, CIO at Australian Maritime Safety Authority, is one IT leader who recognises the need to innovate, although he says opportunities are “few and far between” due to operational demands.

While agreeing innovation is a high priority, he describes it as “opportunistic”.

“We are spending so much time dealing with some of the other business priorities we have, it’s hard to find the time to dedicate to innovation,” he says.

“When an opportunity arises, we might throw a bit of seeding funding at it but we don’t have a distinct large budget for it.”

Lifting the CIO’s profile

Interestingly, 25 per cent of CIO’s claim their department is still viewed as a cost centre, although 34 per cent say they are viewed as an IT partner.

Furthermore, only 5 per cent of this year’s CIOs believe their department is perceived to be a business game changer, and only 7 per cent see themselves as truly being part of the business. This is a 4 per cent dip compared to 2012, and a fall of 18 per cent on 2011 results.

The good news is CIOs are endeavouring to lift their profile and elevate IT’s general relationship with the business. Respondents indicated steps they have taken in the graph below.

Which of the following actions have you taken in the past year to solidify or elevate IT’s general relationship with business stakeholders?

Fixed major problems with system operations69%43%55%
Met more frequently with influential stakeholders67%55%53%
Delegated more IT operations to trusted lieutenants48%28%28%
Created quick wins for business partners46%39%45%
Initiated new products and services for competitive advantage42%29%26%
Developed IT leadership capabilities in senior managers40%20%20%
Created a portfolio approach to IT39%30%28%
Trained IT staff to partner better with business stakeholders38%33%20%
Cultivated a relationship with a board member34%22%29%
Developed a cross-functional focus among IT managers33%23%22%

For the full survey and analysis, pick up the latest issue of CIO Australia.