The Changing Nature of the CIO

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

CIOs Set 2011 Priorities

Survey finds that while BI and analytics are still the highest priority, interest in all things cloud computing is rising fast.

There's been a lot of talk over the years about how much impact the CIO needs to have on the business. Opinions of the role CIOs play in the company have ranged widely from being mere stewards of IT to serving as the catalyst for major business process innovation.

Against that backdrop, it's interesting to delve a little deeper into the numbers behind a recent global survey of 3,018 CIOs. IBM asked those CIOs to describe their mandate, with the results breaking out as follows:


  • Leverage: Streamline operations and increase organizational effectiveness (14 percent)
  • Expand: Refine business processes and enhance collaboration (51 percent)
  • Transform: Change the industry value chain through improved relationships (23 percent)
  • Pioneer: Radically innovate products, markets and business models (13 percent)


While it's clear that the majority of the CIOs surveyed are working with either Leverage or Expand mandates, the fact that the Leverage mandate only accounted for 14 percent of the total suggests that IT organizations are more closely aligned with the goals of the business than ever, says newly appointed IBM CIO Jeanette Horan.

In fact, Horan says that most CIOs she knows are spending more of their time on business issues, which is enabled by either relying on others inside the IT organization to handle technical decisions or simply outsourcing that function all together. The end result is a lot more emphasis on being able to stand up on agile IT organization that responds dynamically to the needs of the business.

That need for better alignment, says Horan, shows up clearly when CIOs are asked to rank their priorities for 2011, with business intelligence and mobility at the top of the list, followed by virtualization and cloud computing. It's interesting to note that cloud computing made the biggest gain year over year, but Horan says that IBM thinks the vast majority of that work involves the development of private cloud computing platforms that are designed to run behind a corporate firewall.

None of this means that everything in the land of enterprise IT is all goodness and light. IT leaders are still wrestling with bloated IT infrastructure and complex data management issues. But Horan says that thanks to an ongoing emphasis on master data management (MDM) and virtualization over the past few years, a lot of progress is being made on these issues.

The end result, says Horan, is that we're finally starting to see CIOs comes of age, especially as more of them concentrate on enhancing their business skills in order to be a whole lot smarter about making the right IT investments.

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