CIOs gain budget as strategic role increases global survey reveals

Mobile technology is increasing CIO’s IT budgets and driving recruitment as CEOs look for growth and demand CIOs deliver it, the 2012 CIO Survey from Harvey Nash reveals.

The global survey found that 56 per cent of CIOs are launching projects that make money for their organisations rather than saving money as the CEO’s priorities switch towards growth, emerging markets and new technologies. CIOs report they are seen as the key to unlocking potential growth that organisations have been starved off since the banking crisis led to an economic downturn.

The Harvey Nash CIO Survey, one of the most reliable surveys of CIO sentiment, found that globally 71 per cent of CIOs believe their organisation needs to “embrace new technology otherwise they will lose market share”. Mobile technology is cited by the survey respondents as the driver from both customers and CEOs. The research shows that 58 per cent of CIOs responding are actively developing mobile and tablet applications and 20 per cent are very active in development.

This rush to mobile is in turn giving CIOs a budget increase as 44 per cent reported that their budget had increased for 2012, an increase from 39 per cent last year. Not only are technology budgets increasing, the CIO is graining overall control of their IT spend. Last year seven per cent had control over the majority of spend; this has increased to 11 per cent in 2012.

As ever, there is a double edge to this trend. Although budgets and CEO demand for IT benefits have increased, CIOs are also discovering a skills shortage in all economies and that retention of key staff is increasingly challenging. Demand for workers with mobile skills has increased by 21 per cent, up from 14 per cent a year ago and related to this, demand for security skills has increased by 17 per cent, up from 13 per cent in 2011 and again related to the mobile trend, demand for social media skills has increased by 15 per cent from 11 per cent in 2011. 

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Adam Gerrard, CTO at The LateRooms Group and CIO 100 member told Harvey Nash: “In a consumer driven world where global competition has removed the old constraints of geographic boundaries, attracting, developing and retaining world class with a global mindset is by far our biggest challenge.”

CIOs said that a quarter of their workforce consists of flexible workers for 75 per cent of respondents. Harvey Nash believe the demand is being driven by a slowly improving US economy under President Barack Obama.

Enterprise architects and business analysts (BA) remain in demand by CIOs, although they have been eclipsed by the need for mobile, social and security experts. Thirty five per cent of CIOs said they had a demand for enterprise architects, an increase of one per cent since 2011 and demand for BAs dropped a percentage point, but 34 per cent of the survey respondents require BA skills in their enterprise. Retaining existing talent was cited as the largest human resources issue in IT for 35 per cent of the global CIOs responding. Harvey Nash, a recruitment firm, believes this is recognition by CIOs that the employment market is improving.

CIO UK concurs; recent discussions with CIOs across the country and in a wide variety of vertical markets, from engineering, construction, public sector, financial services, retail and manufacturing all indicate retention and recruitment as a major challenge.

“This year the focus is on growth,” remarked Harvey Nash Chief Executive Albert Ellis of the results. Overall the majority of CIOs around the world are working on growth or strategic responsibilities in their organisations. The survey found that 56 per cent are developing revenue generating projects instead of the focus on cost control that has dominated the CIO survey in recent years. CIOs responsibilities are therefore becoming more global with 60 per cent telling the survey that their job remit crosses national boundaries and 68 per cent said the CIO role will continue to become more strategic.