As the role of technology becomes undeniably important within organisations, senior management has begun recognising technology as central to innovation and competitive advantage.

That is the main result of an online survey of 175 CIOs from around the world by The Center for CIO Leadership, in collaboration with Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR). Harvard hosted the survey online and the IBM Centre for CIO Leadership provided support for the research.

Eighty four per cent of respondents believed that technology was significantly or profoundly transforming their industries, but that their companies were only fairly effective at taking advantage of the potential this transformation presents.

With this change, more CIOs are sitting at the executive table and maintaining an active role in strategic business decisions. Eighty per cent of CIOs responded that they are a valued member of the senior leadership team, and 69 per cent indicated they have significant involvement in strategic decision-making.

The survey's findings show how CIOs have gained significant influence over their organisations' strategic decisions. These CIOs also contribute to strategic planning and growth initiatives, gain the commitment of senior management, and earn the trust of senior management.

Companies with a strategic CIO tend to use IT more extensively to design new products and services and share technology more effectively across the enterprise. According to the CIOs surveyed, their priorities include improving external partnerships, developing IT talent, and extending the collaboration across their business.

Also, organisations whose CIOs are involved in the decision making process demonstrate higher levels of IT-enabled business model innovation, IT-enabled product/service innovation and shared infrastructure and services.

The survey's findings show that CIOs involved in the strategic process also have a list of skills that set them apart. These skills include political savvy, leadership, relationship management and resourcefulness. The survey concluded by stating, "In a competitive environment where IT infrastructure and process automation are CIO "table stakes", it is incumbent upon IT executives to have an impact on their organisations' capacity to innovate and grow."

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