2014 CIO Magazine’s State of the CIO: A Deeper Look

As we have previously discussed here on InnovatebusinessIT.com, today’s CIOs are increasing the time spent on strategic activities and have elevated their positions within their companies.

Dell’s CXO marketing strategist, Jessica Taylor, sat down with CIO magazine Vice President and Publisher Adam Dennison at a recent industry event to dive more deeply into the 2014 State of the CIO  survey.

The Chicken or Egg Conundrum.  What comes first, the Business Strategist or Innovation Plan?
Forty-eight percent of CIOs say they have a well-defined process for innovation. Coincidentally, or not, 34 percent of CIOs say they are spending their time on more strategic activities (up from just 18 percent in 2009) and less time on “Functional” activities, which is down 11 percent from 2009. But only 48 percent of CIOs say they have a well-defined process for innovation.

These survey responses raise the question of what comes first, strategic-minded CIO or a shift to the business strategist role because of a clearly defined innovation plan? What isn’t clear is how to be innovative. CIOs responded that while they are being asked to be innovative, only 37 percent of respondents said it’s unclear how to do that. However, finding a balance between being a business strategist and being a functional execution artist is still top of mind, with 67 percent of respondents saying, “they are challenged to find the right balance between business innovation and operational excellence.”

The Skills Gap. Is Staff Holding the CIO Back?
One of the more interesting findings from this year’s survey was that 47 percent of CIOs said it was difficult to get their IT staff members to be more business-oriented and customer facing. Dennison offers two reasons about why CIOs might find this to be the case.

First, at a high-level, sometimes it’s hard for IT staffers to view their “end-customer” as not just their internal business partner, but their external consumer.

Second, new technologies and innovation are coming at such a rapid pace, for example, mobility, applications and app development, that it’s proving to be difficult to find the right people with the right skill sets at the right times.  This concept has been explored by Doug Reeder, Innovation principal with Dell Services, being more like a Hollywood Model for staffing. It’s not that CIOs don’t have the right talent in place, but that the technology along the SMAC Stack (Social, Mobile, Apps, Cloud) are moving so quickly. CIOs are finding it difficult to react.

The Shadow IT Disconnect
A major focus of the 2014 CIO survey is the state of the relationship between IT and business decision-makers. Shadow IT is not a new concept. In the survey, 48 percent of IT respondents and 39 percent of business decision-makers said Shadow IT is a constant, albeit cyclical in nature. Both IT and business decision-makers agree, 40 percent and 35 percent respectively, that Shadow IT is increasing at their companies.

However, where the two groups of executives don’t agree is whether IT projects developed without IT involvement run into problems. Seventy-six percent of IT executives feel that projects done by the line of business run into problems, whereas only 45 percent of business decision-makers believe this statement to be true.

Adam Dennison does point out there is a difference between Shadow IT and Rogue IT. While Shadow IT seems to be an accepted reality, efforts need to be made upfront in defining the problem an IT project will solve. All departments are trying to find cheaper, faster and user-friendly IT solutions, but working in partnership can help prevent massive IT failures.

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