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CIOs Drive Business Innovation and Strategies Despite Increasing IT Operational Challenges

While the functional requirements of running an IT organization continue to be a top priority, CIOs today are focusing more on business strategy and taking a more active role in charting the overall success of a company.

67% of the executives who participated in the 2019 State of the CIO Survey claim they are spending more time on activities that drive innovation, directly target customers and contribute to the development of marketing plans. This compares with 53% of the IT leaders who reported allocating a portion of their time as a business strategist in last year’s survey. CIOs are also getting involved in a wider range functions related to business strategy, including identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation (21%) and helping to identify new commercial opportunities (16%).

Despite this increased emphasis on business strategy, an increasing number of CIOs continue to struggle with balancing the demands of business innovation and maintaining IT operational excellence, with 80% of the respondents reporting difficulties this year compared with 73% in the 2018 State of the CIO Survey.

Some additional findings from IDG’s comprehensive annual study:

  • Nearly a third of the IT leaders taking part in the annual survey plan to implement new systems and architectures over the next three years while 27% say they will help redesign business processes.
  • Data analytics continues to be the top area driving IT investments this year, with 37% of the IT leaders in retail and 36% in manufacturing claiming they are directly responsible for analytics activities that are expected to have a positive impact on cross-selling opportunities, optimizing inventory and forecasting, and improving plant floor performance.
  • 88% of the CIOs claim to be more involved in leading digital transformation efforts than any of their business counterparts, more than half the line of business managers polled disagreed with this observation with 10% strongly disputing that CIOs played an over-the-top leadership role in business-wide digital transformation.
  • 55% of the CIOs polled cited learning more about customer needs as a key goal in supporting business innovation, and 47% are creating customer-centric teams to focus on innovation initiatives.

“If you think about our focus on customers, delivering new digitally enhanced products and services, and creating whole new business models – we are really driving digital into the core of the company as part of our overall business transformation,” noted CEC member Jim Swanson, SVP/CIO and Head of Digital Transformation, Bayer Crop Science, in a recent Council webcast.

“We are building in this mindset of agility so that people can become the accelerator for ideas, and we have engines that we can apply to that learning and rapidly innovate and scale it.”

Want to know more about the 2019 State of the CIO Survey research or joining the CIO Executive Council community of members who are taking an active role in driving digital and business transformation?  Contact us.