Perception vs. Reality: Where Will You Be in 3 Years?

Things are not always what they seem. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Your perception is your reality.

Understanding the difference between what is perceived and what is reality is not a new concept. And we accept these trade-offs on a daily basis. This is also true of today’s current business environment.

It should concern IT professionals that the gap that exists between how executives, business partners and C-suite members perceive the role and effectiveness of the IT department is, as to what the reality could be.

In research conducted by Dell and with The Economist Intelligence Unit, Harvard Business Review and Forbes Insights, we found that the C-suite perception of IT is not necessarily favorable. In fact, only 46 percent of the C-suite believes the CIO understands the business strategy. However, the reality of the IT environment is that 75 percent of C-suite executives feel that the CIO is critical to their future.

The Disconnect

The gap between perceptions and reality should make an IT executive uncomfortable.

What should make today’s CIO extremely uncomfortable is that research found 70 percent of C-suite executives believe that today’s CIOs will not be doing what they are doing today, in three years. This could mean that the CIO will be replaced or that the role could be usurped or simply deleted. Conversely, the research found that only 30 percent of CIOs are capable of evolving and succeeding in their role over the next three years.

The reality that only 30 percent of today’s CIOs will remain in their job after three years is probably not an expected one, and other research findings explain why. When a CIO is engaged in setting business strategy, their business out performs other companies by a two-to-one ratio of companies where the CIO is not included.

Continued evolution of the CIO role is necessary to connect the gap of the “disconnected” perception of the IT function.

The End Game

A recent InformationWeek survey showed that the newest career path to become a CEO would be through an emerging role known as the “Chief Digital Officer.” The position is being formed in many companies to compensate for the disappointment our survey results allude to concerning the CIO, and the growing importance of big data to enable precise business decision capabilities.

This shift in thinking raises more questions than it answers. For example, “Will the CIO report to the CDO? Will the CIO simply become a chief infrastructure officer? Or simply a procurement role for all of the external services being assembled from the outside to support the evolving business models?”

The opportunity is clear: The CIO needs to become a greater contributor to the business by becoming a strategic contributor to the development of new products and services, or even to help define new business models.

One last question remains, “What will it take to reverse the perception of your C-suite to a healthy reality for you or your successor?”

The conversation must continue in order to help navigate through this exciting time ripe with change, transformation and evolution.


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