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A great deal has been said of the CIOs struggle to transform into a strategic business leader, with resources aligned to the greater strategy of the company. That, combined with the growing need to deliver solutions quickly and flexibly, within tight budget constraints and a shortage of skills, is the perception of the average CIO’s workplace. Would the CIO Survey back that up with real data?
Very much so. Throughout the Survey, the responses in topic after topic emphasised the growing focus on business strategy and agility. Frustrations with suppliers unable to keep pace with those new demands were also voiced. And while budgets appear under less pressure than last year, they are still heavily constrained. Skills remain a key issue, but a positive note emerged: many more organisations are offering learnership and internship programmes than before.
In 2014, we received entries from 158 CIOs and senior IT executives. In 2015, that grew nearly 20%, to 188 accepted entries. The breakdown of company size and demographics remained very similar: strongly skewed towards medium and large organisations, spread out across all industry sectors. In total 29% comprise large organisations (500 or more employees), 41% from medium-size firms, and 31% from smaller companies.
This year had a slight increase in commercial organisations (a catch-all grouping for professional services, retail, and others), and a comparable reduction in industrials. Financial services remains the largest single contributor, with 22% of respondents.
The changing CIO role
We don't have concrete data to back it up, but the change in respondent data suggests a very high churn rate within the industry, with many respondents taking part last year, but with a different employer. This will bear greater scrutiny in the future: long term strategy should be in the hands of long term executives.
By far the greater factors in forcing the role change were digital migration (52%) and competitive and disruptive forces in the industry (51%). BYOD and shadow IT was also highlighted as a factor by 30% of CIOs. Relatively few pointed to the emergence of new executives, like CDOs, and the growing influence of CMOs and CFOs, which is positive.
Along with the shift in strategic focus comes a major improvement in the number of CIOs who feel they have credibility as a business partner. 39% strongly agreed, compared with 25% last year, and overall 87% agreed, compared with 79%.
On the CIO's mind
Compliance concerns tends to be driven by large firms, and particular financial services, but there was no drop in the demographics of those groups - look for the full sector analyses in the Survey report for the inside story.
We also asked what areas take up the majority of the CIO's time, and the results were equally interesting. There is a tremendous jump in CIOs noting "aligning IT with the business" as their top use of time, up to 56% from 44%. Driving business innovation also rose by over 10%, up to 35% from 24%. There were notable drops in the time spent on monitoring systems performance and governance - less time keeping the lights on, more time saving energy.
Although lack of skills remains a top concern, recruiting stands out at the bottom of the chart - just 11% of CIOs saying this is a major use of the time.
Last year we asked CIOs what their focus areas were, across the board. This year we split the question into three parts to get greater detail. As a result, the numbers from 2014 can't be directly compared, though the rankings can
We asked about focus areas in IT operations, and business continuity and security stood out as the top two (56% and 55% respectively). Last year, security scored lower than other operational areas lie infrastructure modernisation - this year it's right up there as a key focus.
In growth and optimisation, like last year, the top choice was supporting new business needs - developing solutions are the request of the business, rather than innovating directly. However, improving productivity also saw a big jump up in terms of priorities, and as you'll see, innovation is not being left behind.
We asked separately about focus within innovation, and the results show a clear uptick in process innovation, and healthy interest in developing the groundwork for innovation to take root. The IT department may still be primarily a supporter of innovation, there is a clear sense that it is positioning as the enabler, fostering and nurturing innovation across the organisation - what Gartner calls the internal VC approach.
Asked how that innovation takes shape, there was a definite shift away from just supporting innovation towards formal R&D, with more CIOs indicating they have specific processes, teams and budgets to drive innovation.
Barriers and hurdles
Budgets look healthy
SA economy takes its toll
There were few changes in CIO's budget allocations this year. Infrastructure still takes up the bulk of spend, followed by software and IT services.
BI and analytics topped the chart of technologies being deployed inhouse, with security also climbing - infrastructure spend has been pushed down into fourth place. Unified communications, CRM, and astonishing growth in social media for business emerge as big winners in outsourced spending.
Look to the full report for indepth breakdowns of spend within the different technology areas, both in-house and outsourced.
Alignment with business strategy, long-term alignment, cost, and time to deploy come out as the top criteria, matching what we saw as CIO's strategic concerns. But longevity of solutions, ROI, and ability to adapt to new strategies are amongst in the top complaints.
Skills in short supply
The lack of skills was a top concern, but recruiting was low on the use of time. Here we see why - budgets are under less pressure but 17% of respondents said hiring is frozen at their organisations. There's also an uptick in those seeking general-purpose practitioners, and a drop in those hiring specialists.
One major positive in this year's survey was a swing in the numbers of organisations offering internships. Last year only 31% said their companies ran internship programmes, this year it has increased to 57%, nearly double. There have been a number of industry initiatives to drive this number, including Brainstorm's own Isibani programme, and they appear to be making excellent headway.
Brainstorm CIO Survey 2015, run in association with Telkom Business, was conducted online during August and September. It was by invitation only, targeting CIOs from SA's top 1 000 corporates, as well as public sector organisations.
This is the executive summary of the ITWeb Brainstorm CIO Survey, 2015. It reveals the key trends and overall data of the survey, while the full report explores the results in toto, including analysis of correlated trends and deep dives into each industry segment to identify their key differences and drivers.
To register your interest in the full 2015 CIO Survey report, click here
The 2014 results report can be viewed here.