According to the newly released results of a survey of mid-market executives in the United States, CIOs and other IT leaders are increasingly likely to be identified as the individuals who drive technology adoption in their companies.
The findings, highlighted in Deloitte’s 2016 Mid-Market Technology Report released earlier this month, showed that 49 percent of respondents said IT executives direct the adoption of new and emerging technologies, up from 36 percent in 2015. I spoke with Steve Keathley, national technology leader of Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services, about what’s driving this trend, and he attributed it to the promise of technologies such as cloud, analytics and IoT having been fulfilled. In other words, the C-suite is now full of believers.
“I think what we’re seeing is initiatives that often started as pilots are bearing real fruit, and companies are much more willing to continue to invest along those lines,” Keathley said. “As a result, IT leaders are getting a bigger seat at the table in the C-suite — they’re spending less time talking to business leaders about platforms, and technical things that tend to make people’s eyes glaze over. They’re talking more about the impact of technology internally within the business, and also within the customer base.”
I have a feeling that a lot of IT leaders would argue that they’ve always been the ones who drive technology adoption in their companies, so they really don’t see what’s new here. When I raised that point with Keathley, he said what’s changed is the maturity of cloud and its ease of adoption, particularly in the mid-market. In the past, he said, IT leaders had to spend the preponderance of their time and energy dealing with the resource challenges associated with things like platform upgrades.
“Now, if you want to upgrade to a cloud platform, you spend a whole lot less time having to talk about the capital required because of the platform upgrade,” Keathley said. “You can spend a lot more time talking with business leaders about the transformative aspect of it. I think that’s changed the tone of the conversation. The time-to-value has gotten the attention of business leaders — they’re starting to see some of the promises actually come true in a way they never did before, or never fully understood before. I think that’s the difference here.”
Another interesting finding of the survey was that 54 percent of respondents ranked concerns over data security weaknesses as one of their top three reasons for investing in cloud technology. I mentioned to Keathley it wasn’t that long ago that the respondents would likely have listed security concerns as one of their top three reasons for not investing in cloud technology. He said that’s absolutely true.
“The cloud providers have spent a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money on security — it’s an essential business issue for them,” Keathley said. “They have to provide secure platforms. That’s matured a lot over the last three or four years, and I think cloud providers are putting in a level of security, and a sophistication of cyber defense, that businesses couldn’t afford to do on their own. And they’re now using that as one of the value drivers for going to the cloud.”
Keathley wrapped up the conversation by highlighting the significance of all this in the mid-market.
“I think what we’re seeing, particularly in the mid-market, is that businesses have been able to leverage a lot of these trends fairly easily, because the cost of entry is fairly low,” he said. “And because of the focused nature of their businesses, they’ve been more willing and able to really take advantage of these things in a way that some of the larger companies may be lagging behind on.”
The Deloitte survey was conducted by OnResearch earlier this summer. It polled 500 executives at U.S. mid-market companies to examine technology trends, and how technology influences business decisions.
A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.