CIOs must move from quick wins to being the master of their balance sheets and major business operations, Gartner's head of global research has claimed.

Presenting the keynote of the Gartner Symposium in Sydney, Peter Sondergaard said the next 20 years will see the role of the CIO continue to evolve.

"CEOs are looking to keep their balance sheets strong in uncertain times," he said. "This means one thing for CIOs -- this is not the time to justify projects on soft measures of internal value. You need to show how you can generate cash flow.

"The last few years have actually seen CIOs deliver quick and easy wins to drive down cost. However now is the look at major functions across the organisation."


Sondergaard said the next year will continue to pose financial challenges to IT managers, with pressure from CEOs to reduce costs.

"Most CIOs will be facing another year of restraint," he said. "CEOs have faced up to the fact that there is a rapidly evolving economy and have taken a cautious view on the investments going forward."

Innovation, mobility and inspiration were other key themes mentioned in Sondergaard's keynote, who said four key areas are being positioned as the next major themes in the IT industry.

"Users will not accept architectural mediocrity," he said. "Most importantly four key trends, cloud computing, social computing, context based computing and pattern based strategy, will challenge the business model and proposition of super vendors."

Agreeing with recent reports that a vendor buy out trend is on the rise, Sondergaard said the industry is "caught in a vortex of insatiable mergers and acquisitions", but went on to say that the rise of 'super vendors' will decline over the next few decades.

"We believe this is not sustainable," Sondergaard said. "Acquiring innovation is one thing, maintaining it is completely different."

With recent reports indicating that the use of social networking on mobile devices is on the rise, the impact of Gartner's predicted IT trends will build upon the key principles of social networking sites and mobility, according to Sondergaard.

"The real impact will come as the underlying culture that shapes cultural computing will pervade the enterprise and blur the boundaries between the personal and professional productivity," he said.

"Today with the proliferation of devices, [and] the explosion of devices in the hands of the consumers at the edge of the IT universe...has created a new internet fabric.