CIOs and other IT executives have made significant progress in their long-standing efforts to tightly align and coordinate their IT departments with their organisations’ business units, according to a “CIOs at a Technology and Cultural Crossroads” survey announced today by Red Hat. Despite this progress, there are still obstacles to overcome before the vision of true IT and business integration can be fully realised.
The “CIOs at a Technology and Cultural Crossroads” survey provides insight into the progress CIOs and other IT executives have made in assuming more strategic roles as well as into the challenges they continue to face, but also raises fundamental questions about how CIOs can best drive business innovation within their companies. The survey also suggests that getting the business and IT together may take something as fundamental as rethinking the CIO position itself.
Currently, many CIOs and other IT executives spend much of their time “keeping the lights on.” 48 per cent of respondents selected “improving IT operations/system performance” and 47 per cent of respondents selected “implementing new systems and architectures” as one of their top five areas of focus. Despite these day-to-day demands, many IT executives surveyed also manage to engage in a variety of business activities, including 45 per cent of survey respondents who note that they currently spend time aligning IT initiatives with business goals.
In the coming years, IT executives want to spend more time contributing to business strategy, according to survey results. When asked where they would like to spend more time in the next three to five years, survey respondents indicated that they would like to identify opportunities for competitive differentiation (48 percent); cultivate the IT / business partnership (42 percent); drive business innovation (41 percent); align IT initiatives with business goals (35 percent); and develop and refine business strategy (32 percent).
Given the chance, the surveyed IT executives believe they were valuable contributors to business strategies. Among the respondents, 78 per cent rated their knowledge of the business as either “excellent” or “good” and 66 percent said that their receptiveness to new ideas coming from business units was “excellent” or “good.”
Even given the opportunity to innovate, many felt stymied by factors outside of their control. When asked if they had the budget to support and enable new business ideas, 57 percent said their available budget was only “fair” or “poor,” and 62 percent said the same about their staffing levels.
Other challenges remain before IT will be viewed as a contributor to business strategy. When surveyed IT executives were asked to describe how their companies’ business stakeholders viewed the IT organisation, only 10 per cent said they were perceived to be “business peers” engaged in developing, not just enabling, business strategy. Even fewer of the business stakeholders (4 per cent) were thought to perceive IT as a “business game changer” that serves as the primary driver of the enterprise’s competitive future. Meanwhile, the IT respondents said that nearly 30 percent of business stakeholders still consider the IT department to be merely a “cost center,” and the survey showed that new IT projects are more frequently initiated by business champions approaching IT (77 percent) than by IT approaching business (68 percent). According to the survey, IT and business representatives only collaborate to jointly identify new projects and opportunities for innovation 16 percent of the time.
“IT is a source of key business innovation, and it is the responsibility of IT executives to communicate the strategic value of that innovation,” said Lee Congdon, CIO, Red Hat. “The survey results clearly show the need for IT executives to have a broad understanding of their organisation, and to increase the collaboration between IT and business leaders. It is through this collaborative innovation that not only perceptions will change, but also business results will be driven.”
Methodology and Demographics
CIO Strategic Marketing Services /IDG Research Services conducted an online survey on behalf of Red Hat to better understand the current and future role of the CIO. The survey polled 100 individuals in IT director or above positions in organisations with 1,000 or more employees about the current and future roles of CIOs.
About Red Hat, Inc.
Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, and open source communities, Red Hat helps create relevant, innovative technologies that liberate resources for growth and prepare customers for the future of IT. Learn more at http://www.redhat.com.
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