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CIOs must have board level representation within their companies in order for them to effectively articulate the benefits of IT, says an industry expert.

Lisa Heneghan, partner at KPMG's CIO advisory service in the UK, believes British companies are behind the curve when it comes to giving technology leaders a louder voice.

"Corporate thinking is changing, but not fast enough. Within the British market, we find that at some of the major institutions, many CIOs are called in to answer the board's queries, rather than to offer advice as equal stakes board members," she told CIO UK on the sidelines of a ServiceNow conference in San Francisco.

The KPMG partner, who has worked for Sun Microsystems, EMC, Oracle and Computer Associates, and provided insight for CIO UK in the past, also noted that IT chiefs are moving to an environment where they don't control everything that sits in data centres with the proliferation of cloud infrastructure.

"This dynamic needs to be articulated by CIOs directly to their boards, and not with the CFO serving as an intermediary," she adds.

While various forecasts from IDC to Forrester suggest the cloud market could top $100 billion by 2017, Heneghan thinks it is too early to put a reasonably accurate figure on size of the market.

"The real debate should be about what can really be put into the cloud or not and I see many CIOs still struggling with that debate. Only once this debate has ended can we gauge how far this will go."

The subject of outsourcing remains a tricky one too. "Most businesses I talk to have outsourced pretty heavily over the last 10 years. Another key trend I see is that organisations are looking to rebuild the capability that they may have handed out, to bring about consistency across their IT processes and the ablility to manage multiple suppliers.

"So outsourcing has absolutely got its place. But I don't think it's about handing everything out to the outsourcers, rather having the right retained capability to manage consistently, globally across the outsourcing relationship."

Heneghan also flagged up legacy IT and gender diversity as major concerns for the CIO community.

"Legacy IT is perhaps the biggest issue any CIO has to deal with. At large cap marquee brands, majority of IT capital expenditure at the moment is about keeping the estate functioning to meet the needs of the business. Invariably that involves sorting out the underlying challenge of legacy for an effective implementation of future models."

"SaaS tools and wider IT service management applications are effective ways of getting your arms around the legacy that you have and start to work out some practical short term benefits that you can take."

Gender diversity is also something the industry needs to address in no uncertain terms. "There are simply not enough female CIOs and current level of female IT heads is nowhere near what could be deemed as acceptable. While I acknowledge that IT is a particularly difficult area to attract female candidates, the change must come from within."