CIO Report: IT Leaders Must Balance Innovation and Mundane Tasks

By: Jeff Bertolucci| - Leave a comment

For today’s chief information officer, it’s all about balance. According to a new CIO report, IT leaders must increasingly strike a balance between finding innovative technology solutions and overseeing routine IT duties such as cost control, crisis management and operational upgrades.

In the 2017 edition of CIO’s State of the CIO report, 72 percent of respondents acknowledged that balancing business innovation and operational excellence is an ongoing challenge. This isn’t a surprise, however, given the rapid migration of legacy systems and apps to the cloud and the need for CIOs to battle (and defeat) ever-changing cybersecurity threats.

As a result, the role of chief technology innovator is consuming a larger chunk of the CIO’s time. Half of this year’s respondents said they identify with the “transformational CIO” role — up from 45 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, 53 percent align IT initiatives with business goals, and 38 percent actively cultivate the IT/business partnership.

CIO Report: Focus on Security

The CIO report, which polled 646 IT leaders across a wide range of industries, also found that cybersecurity has become one of the top three CEO priorities for CIOs. This finding is in line with a recent study from the Society for Information Management, which found cybersecurity was the second most important priority for CIOs, according to Forbes. (The top priority was aligning business with IT.)

Security is becoming more of a strategic initiative in the enterprise and less of a set of stand-alone practices, the CIO report found. Just over half of respondents said security is tightly integrated with IT strategy in their organizations, a significant increase from 37 percent in 2016. Only 12 percent reported that security is not integrated with strategy — meaning security investments are typically a response to IT security challenges — down from 16 percent a year ago.

The Evolving CIO Role

The role of CIO is gaining visibility, both in the C-suite and among the public. The survey found 46 percent of CIOs now report to the CEO — unchanged from last year but still the highest percentage since 2004. Similarly, 61 percent of CIOs communicate with the board of directors, up slightly from 58 percent in 2016.

The majority of CIOs are actively involved in making marketing technology purchasing decisions: 66 percent meet and help evaluate vendors, 65 percent consult to help determine needs and requirements, and 60 percent approve the solution purchase, the report found.

The Hunt for Talent

CIOs are investing energy into the challenge of finding top tech talent. Among respondents to the CIO report, 60 percent said their organization is experiencing a “skills crunch” — a notably higher number than last year’s 49 percent. The hardest jobs to fill are in the fields of data science/analytics, security/risk management and enterprise software.

CIOs also face conflict in their relationship with line-of-business (LOB) managers, who often aren’t fully aware of the scope of the CIO’s responsibilities, the survey found. However, that’s changing.

“Despite their differences, LOB and CIOs have developed a strong partnership, with LOB routinely calling on CIOs as a strategic advisor and consultant for evaluating business needs and technology choices in addition to helping with risk assessment,” the study concluded.

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.