When I wrote about Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst James Staten's keynote address on the industrialization of IT at the itSMF Fusion conference in Louisville, Ky., earlier this year, I mentioned he shared some results of a Forrester survey that illustrated the often-unfavorable opinions of IT held by chief marketing officers. They see IT as "the department of no," said Staten, and "it's hard to shed that label."
Do other business executives share CMOs' low opinion of IT? In the case of CEOs, it would appear not, at least judging from new Harris Interactive research that shows CEOs think highly of the IT function's capability to drive innovation.
According to the survey, which was conducted on behalf of the Olympus Corporation of America, 44 percent of CEOs surveyed view the IT department as the leading innovator in the organization during the past 10 years. Also, 63 percent expect the IT department to drive the highest level of innovation over the next two years.
This is especially important in light of the fact that 95 percent of survey respondents consider enterprise innovation extremely important to the future growth of their companies.
These results remind me of a Gartner survey I wrote about last December, in which 62 percent of CEOs said IT would be a "key element" of their companies' post-recession recovery plans. As I wrote then, I worry that some CEOs see technology as the answer to all their business problems. If IT can't live up to those over-inflated expectations, CEOs' opinions of IT will almost certainly suffer.
No pressure, CIOs.
Maybe there's an opportunity for IT in the fact that more than half of respondents said their companies had no teams, processes or systems for fostering enterprise innovation. IT will be a hero if it can help create an innovation-friendly environment.
For some ideas on where to start, check out IT Business Edge colleague Susan Hall's post on the differences between top-performing IT organizations and their more average peers. According to an Accenture study, some of those differences are:
More good advice is found in Staten's keynote, which I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. Staten's three-part advice to CIOs:
It's all about the ability to recognize what is important to the business and giving it to them by automating routine processes and creating an infrastructure that can quickly deliver new capabilities.