A new survey carried out by Bull Information Systems has found that while many CIOs now have a seat in the boardroom, most struggle to influence business strategy or even to find the freedom to act independently. The survey of 150 CIOs found that only 9% of respondents claimed they have the freedom to set their own agenda in their current job, while the same percentage said they had a high level of influence on final board decisions about IT.
In many cases, the need to focus on IT interferes directly with any attempt by CIOs to exert an influence over business strategy. 81% of survey respondents identified ‘managing isolated IT silos within the business’ as one of the main barriers they faced in ‘aligning information systems with business challenges to maximise value’ and the same percentage highlighted ‘closed systems.’
“One of the main problems CIOs face is that their job is still defined primarily in IT terms and their areas of responsibility are still predominantly IT-related rather than business-based,” says Andrew Carr, sales and marketing director, Bull Information Systems.
65% said data security was their most important responsibility compared to only 23% who nominated ‘driving business growth through IT’. Equally, 55% of the survey sample said their role was primarily around delivering on new IT priorities compared to the 32% who said it was about new business priorities.
“This survey makes sobering reading for today’s new breed of CIOs,” adds Carr. “It seems that in today’s business world CIOs feel there is still little opportunity to ensure their creative ideas get a proper hearing or to have new technologies that they personally favour adopted and implemented. And this is endorsed by the views that many CEOs take of the CIO.”
A recent Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey only served to back up the findings. The study of more than 220 CEOs in user organisations from more than 25 countries showed most CEOs still regard their CIOs as itinerant specialists. Most CEOs thought the best next step for their CIOs would be to do the same job in the same industry or in another industry. Few thought they would move on to a business leadership role.
“Typically, CIOs find themselves sidelined as the prevailing business culture continues to dictate that their job is essentially all about IT. And IT is still seen as an isolated silo remote from the core business focus of many enterprises, irrespective of the fact that innovation is driven from IT projects, with 69% of CIOs in our survey saying they saw IT as a driver of innovation in their business,” continues Carr.
“To make matters worse, CIOs often find they have little available time to take a more strategic view because they are too busy reacting to the directives of the board and tactical business initiatives to develop their own ideas.”
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