After several years of focusing primarily on cost-cutting, the latest survey of CIOs from Gartner Group shows that senior IT executives are once again focusing on the strategic role that IT plays in productivity.
But according to Mark McDonald, Gartner group vice president and head of research for Gartner EXP, this shift will be unlike anything IT executives experienced in the past in that the enhancements to productivity will be defined by the ability of senior IT leaders to drive new business processes that increase profits and enhance revenue while continuing to drop real costs.
The annual Gartner survey of CIOs finds that 1,586 CIOs finds that the top 10 business priorities for CIOs are:
- Business Process Improvement
- Reducing Enterprise Costs
- Increase the Use of Information/Analytics
- Improve Enterprise Workforce Effectiveness
- Attracting and Retaining New Customers
- Managing Change Initiatives
- Creating New Products and Services (Innovation)
- Targeting Customers and Markets More Effectively
- Consolidating Business Operations
- Expanding Current Customer Relationships
But while these business priorities represent business goals that CIOs aspire to, their priorities in terms of technologies show a more practical inclination. They include:
- Cloud Computing
- Web 2.0
- Networking, Voice and Data Communications
- Business Intelligence
- Mobile Technologies
- Data/Document Management and Storage
- Service-Oriented Applications and Architecture
- Security Technologies
- IT Management
Obviously, there isn't a perfect alignment between the business and technology goals of the CIOs surveyed. But as tough economic times continue, it's not all that surprising that the practical realities of running IT in a period of ongoing budget declines are still top of mind. In fact, Gartner says that while IT budgets in 2010 should increase about 1.3 percent in nominal terms, this increase comes on the heels of 8.1 percent declines in IT spending in 2009. On average, Gartner says several years of declining spending mean that on average most IT budgets for 2010 or roughly equal to the IT budgets that CIO's had in 2005.
The end result, McDonald says, is a huge amount of focus on more efficiency in the form of virtualization and cloud computing in order to free up budget dollars to fund growth in a recovering economy. That means, says McDonald, that the coming year is unlikely to be like any other year before it as IT organizations strive to add value with a minimal amount of additional funding. In short, that amounts to "business as unusual" as CIOs struggle to with tighter budgets alongside increased expectations that will define the nature of IT success from here on out. Ultimately, these twin pillars of success will define the next generation of IT leaders.