CIOs need strategy change to realise benefits of new enterprise technology, says Gartner

CIOs need to provide a more outward-looking approach to enterprise IT in order to gain business benefits from a new wave of technology, Gartner has claimed.

A report from the analyst group highlights that only 43 percent of over 2,000 CIOs surveyed were confident their organisations are able to achieve the business potential offered by disruptive new technology.

The survey of CIOs across 41 countries showed that incorporating digital technologies into existing infrastructure, such as mobile, cloud computing, or analytics and business intelligence, is at the top of IT priorities this year.

CIOs also see these changes as being disruptive forces in enterprise IT over the next 10 years, with 70 percent of respondents claiming mobile will have a significant impact in the long term, followed by big data at 55 percent, social media at 54 percent, and public cloud at 51 percent.

However the report revealed that IT budgets are not increasing in order to facilitate the changes facing CIOs.

Globally, IT budgets are expected to decline on average by 0.5 percent for 2013, while UK budgets will stay relatively flat, falling 0.2 percent.   Across EMEA a slight increase was noted, at 0.4 percent. According to Gartner, CIO budgets have on the whole been flat to negative ever since the dot-com bust of 2002.

Nevertheless, the introduction of new technologies continues to be a challenge for CIOs, and budgetary restraints are just one area which needs to be addressed in order to drive business growth through IT innovation.

Gartner vice president and Research Group Fellow Dave Aron told Computerworld UK that IT aspirations are generally in line with business priorities such as increasing growth, reducing costs and delivering operational results.  However problems are arising from conservatism and cynicism in organisations to new trends in IT.

"Suddenly we are entering a 'third wave' of enterprise IT where all sorts of new technologies, mobile, social , cloud, are all coming down the pipe," Aron said.  "But businesses are cynical from the dot-com boom and bust, and they are only just coming round to being willing to invest in new technologies.  Not only for budgetary reasons, but also from cynicism and habit."

One of the main demands that these changes are putting on CIOs is the need to move from a more insular approach of tending IT infrastructure and applications, to looking externally and hunting for the right new technologies to bring the business forward.

This has been reflected in how CIOs have been extending their roles in recent years, with 67 percent now taking on significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT.  In addition, almost a fifth of those surveyed are now tasked with acting as chief digital officer (CDO), with responsibility for leading the company's digital strategy. This contrasts with a similar survey in 2008, when almost half of CIOs had no role outside of central IT.

However Aron said that more needs to be done in order to successfully implement the array of new technologies that are impacting on enterprise IT.

"To date CIOs have been tending the flock of apps, ERP, CRM, and are very much keeping the apps they have got going, and incrementally improving them," Aron said.  "But we think they need to do two different things.  One is a kind of 'hunting' behaviour - much more external facing, looking for digital threats and opportunities that might have nothing to do with what IT has been doing so far."

"The other is 'harvesting', just squeezing a lot more business value out of the technology that is already there, often through encouraging a lot of non-IT good practices like culture change, change management."

CIOs also need to look towards partnerships with other C-level executive, he said, creating alliances in areas such as in marketing.

"You could argue that CIOs have very well worn pathways between them and finance or manufacturing, because that is where IT has traditionally been focused. Their connection to marketing departments and sales is often much less mature, and that needs to be made more powerful."

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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