Business change the key strategy for 50% of CIOs

Business change will be the primary focus for 50% of CIOs over the next 12 months, the 2015 CIO 100 reveals. A further 25% will be delivering major business operational improvements, but just 10% are focusing on customer facing digital initiatives.

The 2015 CIO 100, which recognises and details 100 transformational CIOs from or within the UK showcases the transformational achievements of CIOs over the last year and celebrates the difference a CIO can make to an organisation.

Cost reduction was cited by just 7% of the CIO 100 respondents and only 8% are working on data centric strategies.

David Cooper, CIO of British Gas said his strategy is: "To nurture and grow the two new businesses that are helping significantly change the customer engagement and growth prospects of our businesses, Smart Metering and Connected Homes through our Hive product," which Cooper says "put the customer at the heart of, and in control of every interaction through digital self service".

Improving the way the business operates through the use of mobile technology was a key strategic focus for a number of business leaders. Mark Large, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust CIO is planning "to deliver mobile access to a single patient record for 6,500 staff as well as interoperability allowing the sharing of patient data with our partners across primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare settings".

Other strategies are based on evolution. Mike Sturrock, CIO of logistics services provider DX said: "Go back two years and technology at DX was in a very poor state. Over the last 24 months we've fixed the foundations and the coming year can be characterised by getting ahead. So in 12 months the operation will be transformed. We'll have new collection point and timed delivery solutions in the market, the technology team will continue to deliver a huge portfolio of programmes and projects. Last but not least the bedrock of everything we do is rock solid service and we've achieved that in 2014 and will ensure that nothing we deliver in 2015 undermines that."

CIOs focusing on customer opportunities include Robert Teagle at global coffee retailer Starbucks: "The main strategic aims for IT are to optimise customer facing technology and innovation in customer facing technology."

With rumours of growth returning the UK economy, CIOs are looking to ensure their teams and strategies are able to react if there is an upturn to their vertical market. Former CIO 100 judge and now CIO with another logistics firm, YodelAdam Gerrard said: "The strategic aim is to create business agility in a digitally enabled customer centric business. We will do this by embracing the cloud, leveraging social channels, raising productivity through mobility solution, improving the consumer, client and workforce experience by leveraging appropriate technologies and enabling data driven decision making."

CIOs are also aware that they must not lose focus on their teams in the rush to change the business. Clive Mitchell of holiday provider Bourne Leisure said he was focusing on "empowering and enabling environment that allows the IT team to recruit and retain top talent, whilst it can deliver the already agreed (and ambitious) business transformation programme and business as usual for 2015 and have some fun as well".

It is no surprise that CIOs in the public sector still see cost control as a strategic focus.

Tonino Ciuffini, CIO of Warwickshire County Council said: "We continue to face reduced budgets due to the cuts in public service funding. As a result, a major element will be reviewing sourcing strategies and considering alternative delivery models that can help us maintain our existing levels of IT service against these budgetary reductions.

"Technology trends helps us face this challenge and we have seen improvements in customer satisfaction despite reducing the budget by 8% over the last two years. "

In the private sector, Teagle at Starbucks aims to save money, but not for the sake of cost cutting as he "adopts new business models and the required technology to ensure efficiency within IT operations and costs (not cost cutting)".

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams