The role of the CIO is shifting dramatically away from day-to-day activity and ‘keeping the lights on’ towards a long-desired strategic focus, according to the findings of the sixth annual Logicalis Global CIO Survey. The global survey of more than 840 CIOs has identified long overdue, significant change in the role of CIOs across Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Australia.
- Innovation accounts for around 25% of the modern CIO’s role, with strategic activity (including innovation) accounting for around half of the role.
- 94% of respondents spend between 10% and 50% of their time on innovation and other strategic activities, 38% spend at least 30% of their time on this area.
- 73% of CIOs are measured on system availability and 62% on their success in reducing the cost of IT and risk mitigation
- 22% of IT is now managed by external suppliers, and 24% is outside the corporate footprint.
- 31% delegate day to day IT tasks due to lack internal resources or know-how
With great(er) power comes great(er) responsibility
This time last year we were hearing from CIOs that their roles were dominated by day to day IT management. In the 2017-18 survey, the majority of CIOs were spending between 60% and 80% of their time on ‘keeping the lights on’ and remained frustrated in their desire to spend up to 70% of their time on strategy.
It seems that their progress towards that goal over the last 12 months has been significant. Today, 94% of these IT leaders spend between 10% and 50% of their time on innovation and other strategic activities, and 38% spend at least 30% of their time on this area. On average, innovation accounts for around a quarter of the modern CIO’s role, with strategic activity (including innovation) accounting for around half of the role.
But, with this shift comes a seeming increase in expectation when it comes to measurement. Tellingly, half of CIOs (50%) now see their performance measured according to their ability to deliver service innovation and more than a third (35%) are expected to make a direct contribution to revenue growth – perhaps through digital transformation and by enabling product and service innovation through digital technology.
Against this backdrop it’s no surprise, then, to see CIOs more willing to seek outside help to manage day to day IT. Overall 22% of the average CIO’s IT estate is now managed by third parties. What’s more, CIOs’ success in taking on a more strategic role appears to be enabling new, more agile and adaptable approaches to organisational innovation.
The way organisations think about innovation is changing, with strategies for innovation now most commonly about enabling small scale, everyday experimentation. Over a third (34%) of organisations now take that approach, with the large-scale projects that once dominated now accounting for less than a quarter (23%).
CIOs are playing a crucial role in this new approach to innovation. When asked what role they play in organisation-wide innovation, 32% said they played a leading role, while a further 51% pointed to an enabling role. Innovation isn’t for all it seems, though, with an unlucky 13% admitting to playing only a peripheral role and 4% playing no role at all.
Positive signs for the future
These findings complement a number of key takeaways in a recent survey of CIOs by Gartner (2019 CIO Agenda: Secure the Foundation for Digital Business). It reports that digital progress has reached a tipping point where a half of respondents say their organisation’s business model has already changed or is changing. 95% of the Gartner respondents believe security threats will increase and calls for CIOs to: “Build relationships with the business and other stakeholders while communicating the value of IT for digital business”, something the Logicalis survey shows they are doing as “agents of innovation”.
We’re delighted to see CIOs enjoying success in taking on a long-desired more strategic role – no doubt helped by their increasing reliance on trusted third parties to take on more of the heavy lifting associated with day to day activities.
Most importantly, this shift seems to have enabled CIOs to take central roles in innovation. This is essential given that digital technology now sits at the heart of innovation, not just enabling better service delivery, communication or collaboration, but defining entirely new business propositions.
There is still a long way to go if organisations are to realise the full benefits of digital transformation. But the fact that CIOs and technology leaders are central to this innovation – rather than struggling to keep up – can only give us real optimism for the future.
The results of the global survey of more than 840 CIOs can be accessed here: https://www.logicalis-thinkhub.com/