CIOs still tech leaders, eye business more: Gartner

CIOs are still clinging tight to the organisation’s IT operations and are seeing more need to demonstrate value to the business, but would still benefit from promoting their work to the wider business, a new Gartner survey has revealed.

The top three issues for CIOs from 2010 to 2013 are positioning the organisation to be perceived as partners with the business, demonstrating IT’s value proposition to the business and managing a common set of technology priorities across multiple business units.

Linda Price, group vice president of executive programs at Gartner Asia Pacific, said these issues don’t really change much and number three is what CIOs do best.

“CIOs are still very task-focused, but it’s all about value proposition as well,” Price said, adding this stance is understandable because when budgets are low people are more focused on processes.

“I spoke with one CIO who had recruited a PR person to market IT to the business,” she said.

The 2010 Gartner Executive Programs CIO Survey is one of the largest of its kind in the world with 1586 participating CIOs across 41 countries with a combined it budget of $124 billion.

Formerly the CIO at Fairfax Media, Price believes from 2010 to 2013 CIOs plan to work to contribute directly to the business.

The focus for 2010 is still about cost, but this is now second to “improving business processes”, which indicates the “cost-efficiency” concept has been cracked and CIOs are moving into innovation and more productivity, according to Price.

The top three business priorities among local CIOs for 2010 – improving business processes, cutting enterprise costs and creating new products or services (innovation) – align well with the intentions of global CIOs.

“Businesses have parked a lot of projects [so] the message is very much ‘wait and see’”, Price said.

With the context for IT shifting from managing resources to creating results, Price said CIOs are still caught in a “ridiculous situation” where CIOs are being held accountable, but the projects are in the business.

2010 is slated as the year of transition – from recession to recovery, from efficiency to productivity and from heavy weight to lighter weight technologies.

“CIOs are thinking how to become more tightly integrated with the business, and, on the transition to lighter technologies we’re not moving as quickly as we could,” Price said.

Overall, the survey reveals a CIO agenda based on delivering both productivity and capability.

The top three strategies for local CIOs in 2010 is linking business and IT strategies and plans, implementing IT process improvements and improving the quality of IS services show businesses are preparing for competition to come back in the market, Price says.

“It’s not too exciting, but it involves putting a platform down for growth,” she said.

“There have been massive jumps in the priority of cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies. This is their interest and part of the plan going forward.”

Virtualisation went from number three to number on the priority list in the past year.

For organisations in Australia and New Zealand the average change in IT budget was 3.26 per cent. This compares well to the total average spend increase of 1.23 per cent.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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