Highlighting the Role Tech Plays in a Culture of Innovation

IDG’s CIO—the executive-level IT media brand providing insight into business technology leadership—reveals insights into the role senior tech leaders hold at their organizations and the collaborative approach that is setting the ground work for innovation in the 2018 State of the CIO Survey (click to tweet). The majority of CIOs (73%) find it challenging to balance business innovation and operational excellence, however, they are taking steps to accomplish just that.

“As a CIO, I was hired to make sure that the trains run, but I also focus on innovation and disrupting ourselves to stay ahead of the curve,” said Ron Guerrier, CIO at Farmers Insurance Group of Companies.

CIOs Establishing a Culture for Innovation
Over the next 3 years, the majority of CIOs (57%) anticipate spending time on strategic activities, where they are driving innovation and identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation. Fortunately, their current environment and business practices are setting them up for success. Almost half of CIOs (47%) report directly to the CEO and the average tenure for CIOs is 5 years and 8 months.

Photo Copyright Axel Buhrmann

“CEOs are looking for CIOs to drive innovation, and their longevity at the organization is important to ensure that plans are able to be fully executed as outlined,” explained Adam Dennison, SVP & General Manager, IDG Events and CIO Executive Council, and Publisher, CIO. “Customer experience is vital to innovation, and fortunately CIOs are not working in a silo as 71% are meeting with customers to get first-hand insight on where their business can improve.”

CEOs are not the only ones relying on CIOs for business success. Line of business (LOB) partners view CIOs as strategic partners or consultants (80%), which has increased dramatically from 63% in 2017. This change in perspective may be a result of more collaboration as technology becomes more of a shared resource and investment. When looking at technology investment, overall, IT maintains control of the majority of tech spending (55%), with additional pockets of tech budget residing in departments such as marketing, operations and finance/accounting. However, tech spending for specific departments is most often done in tandem with IT.

“During collaborative IT conversations with line of business colleagues, I ask ‘what business problem needs to be solved?’” Kristie Grinnell, CIO & VP Information Technology & Supply Chain, General Dynamics Information Technology. “Business led IT allows real business problems to be solved in a secure way, while also considering customer experience.”

Heightened Focus on Security
For the first time in the history of this survey, security moved to the top spot for where CIOs are spending their time, up 13 percentage points to 54%. This transition demonstrates the fluidity between functional and strategic activities. Additionally, 54% of CIOs shared that IT security and IT strategy are tightly aligned, and this alignment is anticipated to increase to 82% over the next three years. Given the recent trajectory of breaches, CEOs are looking to CIOs to update data security to avoid cyber attacks.


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