One of the more challenging issues for Digital Leaders in today's fast moving world is to understand which of the latest trends are meaningful for them and which are just froth and hype. Conferences and symposia offer the opportunity to see what's going on although many presenters just share good-news stories. Meanwhile, the national press seems to confine itself to reporting 'IT glitches' and hounding down hapless public sector organisations whose projects have not gone as well as they had hoped. Where else - other than here with CIO UK - can the CIO go?
Many years ago Harvey Nash recognised that CIOs needed better feedback and so decided to see if a large-scale survey of IT leaders would help. The survey has now been running for 15 years and is open to all CIOs and senior IT leaders world-wide, and is often commented on in this title.
The questions fall into two categories. There are the 'old favourites' which allow multi-year trends to be charted. However, each year CIOs around the world are extensively quizzed so that their current concerns can be included. This year for example, there has been much speculation over whether there is a 'Digital Ceiling' for female professionals entering the industry, so questions on that topic have been expanded.
Multi-year trends provide interesting insight. Some are predictable. For example, the need to build a strong relationship with business partners is perennially at the top of the CIO 'worry list'. Also CIOs consistently report that they find it easier to work with their finance and operations functions compared to the sales and marketing departments. The survey also documents how ownership of the IT estate is shifting. Over the last three years we have seen other departments, such as marketing, starting to make their own IT investments, outside of the control of the IT function. This year we will reveal whether that trend is continuing and focus a light on the much talked about role of the Chief Digital Officer.
But there are also trends we didn't expect to see. Despite often being cast as dinosaurs, CIOs are extremely enthusiastic about disruptive technologies. Last year, nearly two thirds of the respondents felt that cloud and mobile computing would be highly advantageous to their organisations. Indeed, more than 80% had made recent and major investments in both. Other trends were much less fancied. Nearly a quarter of CIOs did not like social media and felt it would be highly disadvantageous to their companies if deployed widely.
There are also interesting differences between geographies. UK leaders for example, are much more likely to report to the CEO. They are less concerned about skills shortages and are highly confident about their own organisation's ability to innovate. US CIOs however, worry much more about their skills shortages, while they are the most highly focused on making money for their organisations. Meanwhile in Australia, IT leaders are increasing their outsourcing investments much faster than others in the world. They are also well ahead of the pack in their deployment of collaborative and mobile technologies. However, on the downside, many more antipodean leaders fear that the role of the CIO is not considered strategic enough in their enterprises compared to others.
As the 2014 survey closes, we will be providing some insight and thoughts of the strong themes emerging from the survey in forthcoming editions of CIO magazine.
You can take part in the Harvey Nash CIO survey here.
In return for the 20 minutes or so required to fill in the online form, each leader receives the full 50+ page report and a guarantee of confidentiality. This year, we expect several thousand leaders to participate, with their combined IT spending running into hundreds of billions of dollars. And for the first time this year respondents will receive personalised feedback comparing their organisations to their peers. This is also done in complete confidence.