by CIO Staff

The Mid-Market CIO: No Time to Innovate

Jan 01, 20072 mins

Operational CIOs, who typically hail from companies with revenue of $1 billion or less, are most likely to give the cold shoulder to hot technologies, largely because they don’t have the time, money or staff to experiment with them. Their lowest technological priorities are open source (10 percent), new technologies (28 percent), SOA (31 percent), supply chain automation (33 percent) and e-commerce (36 percent), according to “The State of the CIO” survey.

When it comes to service-oriented architecture plans, which are hot now, 44 percent of Operational CIOs claimed they had no plans for SOA, the highest percentage of any archetype. That stat matches a 2006 Forrester report by VP Randy Heffner, which found that fewer midsize companies have innovative plans for SOA than larger ones. What’s interesting, however, is that midsize organizations want to pursue SOA: A 2005 Forrester survey reported that 44 percent of small and midsize companies said that implementing an SOA project was a high or critical priority.

Of course, if you’re an Operational CIO having trouble proving the value of IT to the business (which nearly half are, according to our survey), then pursuing an SOA—or open-source or e-commerce—project just isn’t happening right now. Keeping the network running, e-mail up and the ERP implementation on schedule is.

And “innovation” for the IT department usually means making existing products better—not dreaming up new ones in the lab. Just 3 percent of CIOs at midsize companies said innovation is a dominant part of their role, compared with those at small (15 percent) and large (9 percent) companies.

“Where [the business] looks to us for innovation in IT is in finding better ways to make SAP work for them,” says Michael O’Dell, CIO of Pacific Coast Cos. “They’re not looking for technology just for the pure sake of technology; they’re looking for technology that provides a return on the investment.”