CIOs reporting directly to CEO happiest: research

Harvey Nash CIO Survey

The crucial role of the CIO is recognised in more organisations than ever, but today’s CIOs also need to be masters of all trades and focused on projects that generate revenue rather than reduce costs,  according to the 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey.

The proportion of CIOs reporting directly to the CEO has risen 10 per cent since last year to 34 per cent. CIOs with this direct reporting line to the CEO are also the happiest, with 87 per cent reporting job fulfilment.

The research showed that 63 per cent of CEOs now focus on IT projects that make money, compared with 37 per cent focusing on projects designed to save money. There have also been some significant shifts in CIO priorities away from traditional IT – increasing operational efficiencies has dropped by 16 per cent, while delivering stable IT performance has dropped 27 per cent.

For CIOs in smaller businesses, the change is more marked – they are more than five times as likely to spend the majority of their time working on external-facing projects such as developing stakeholder relationships and growth strategies, instead of traditional IT functions such as systems and infrastructure.

Skills shortage remains a threat

Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of CIOs say they believe a lack of talent will prevent their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change, an increase of 10 per cent since 2015.

Data analytics is the most in-demand skill at 39 per cent, while the biggest jumps in skill demand year-over-year have been seen in digital (up 21 per cent), and security (up 17 per cent).

“These results clearly show a maturing view of digital within organisations,” said Guy Holland, head of digital, KPMG Australia. “With the significant slowdown in growth of the standalone Chief Digital Officer role, and only 16 per cent of CIOs ‘owning’ the digital strategy, organisations are taking a more holistic view of the importance of establishing a pervasive digital-first mindset and skillset across their enterprise.”

“Australian businesses will need to adapt and enhance the skills of their employees in many areas and also apply a greater focus to the cultural dimension of digital transformation,” he added.

This skill shortage is driving outsourcing, which is increasingly being driven by a need for specific capabilities and flexibility, rather than saving money. Half of CIOs surveyed said they will increase investment in outsourcing this year.

Gender diversity is also still a challenge in technology leadership – while the number of women in senior IT leadership roles has risen by a third in the last year, it is certainly nothing to get too excited about: rising from a paltry 6 per cent to 9 per cent. Only a third of CIOs report that they now have a formal diversity initiative in place.

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