CIOs’ responses to digital imperatives highlight gaps in skills and trust

MWD Advisors conducted an in-depth CIO study in spring 2017. It shows that as organisations embark on the journey of digital transformation, IT functions need to step up their game – regaining trust with the business and upskilling in key disciplines such as customer experience, business architecture and innovation.

Top Takeaways

CIOs are positioning themselves for the future

CIOs, and the IT organisations they’re responsible for, are positioning themselves for innovation, digital and CX responsibilities. Clearly this group of respondents think they should have broader business remits, and not just be limited to ‘order-taking’ roles.

Important tensions need to be resolved

Dysfunctional IT / business relationships, remain, with tension around delivery and responsibility. Unless these tensions can be resolved and new working patterns established, CIOs are unlikely to be able to fulfil their aspirations.

Looking beyond hiring talent

Skills availability is the big constraint – but what about recruitment vs training existing staff? Most organisations can’t expect to fill demand for skilled resources from the market – especially with regard to digital or innovation initiatives – firms must train existing staff.

The argument for cloud platforms is already won

Cloud platforms are now ‘part of the furniture’. The ease-of-use of many cloud services is likely to have a beneficial impact where skills are an issue, but cloud platforms can also exacerbate information and technology governance, architecture and risk management challenges. Organisations need to pay careful attention in these areas.

Taking the pulse of today’s CIOs

Digital technologies are more intertwined with business products, services, processes and models intertwined than ever. Whether you want to explore the impacts of cloud platforms, machine learning, robotic automation, citizen developers or DevOps (or any of a dozen other things) it’s easy to see that the opportunities, challenges and expectations for corporate IT groups are all changing fast.

We invited people who self-identified themselves as fulfilling a leadership role in a corporate IT setting to complete a short online survey. We wanted to explore how corporate IT groups are responding today across different industries and locations. Our survey ran over six weeks in March and early April 2017. It attracted 65 respondents, with a good spread across industry sectors (including education, public sector and not-for-profit, technology, and transport). The demographics of the survey group are shown in the Appendix section at the end of this report.

CIOs are forward-looking, but under pressure

CIOs know their teams need to evolve in order to thrive as their organisations become digital enterprises, but a lack of skills (and a lack of trust between theirs and business teams) risks hold them back.

The figure below shows CIOs’ responses to a collection of ten statements, framed to capture the overall posture of CIOs and their IT organisations in the face of technology and business change. Respondents were asked to agree/disagree with each of the following (randomized) statements:

  • We need to give up more control over how technology is purchased and used.
  • Business teams are ready to take more responsibility for the results of technology-based projects.
  • We struggle to keep up with demand for new technology capabilities and changes to capabilities.
  • Our technology and skills investments are well-aligned to what our wider business needs today.
  • Our current technology suppliers are a good fit to support changes we want to make in how we use technology in our business.
  • We have a good understanding of how we need to adapt the skills profile of our IT organisation over the next 12-24 months to meet business needs.
  • We have the right learning and support mechanisms in place to enable our current IT staff to meet the needs of our business over the next 12-24 months.
  • We have a good handle on what ‘digital transformation’ means for our organisation.
  • We have a clear understanding of the full range of technology tools, applications and cloud services in use across the business.
  • Technology openness and flexibility are more important to us than feature lists.

Fig. 1: How much do you agree with the following statements when thinking about your own IT organisation?

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