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28 November 2008, London, UK – CIOs are ready to play a key leadership role in helping their businesses to adapt to the current tough economic climate, latest research reveals. The majority of CIOs questioned (62%) believed their board-level colleagues were increasingly turning to them for insight and leadership in business change. The survey of 100 CIOs was carried out by the networking organisation CIO Connect, which represents 60% of FTSE 250 companies in the UK.

As the influence of CIOs continues to grow as many as 80% of CIOs now sit on one of their organisation’s principal executive or operating committees. And one in five CIOs operate at the very highest level and have a seat at Board-level

Consequentially, 60% of CIOs said they were in an excellent position to be able to build a detailed knowledge of the executive's latest business priorities and organisational imperatives. For 42% of CIO respondents, a key attribute associated with their role is the broad and informed view they contribute to their organisation’s executive committee on business strategy and processes, coupled with a deep knowledge of how technology can help deliver business benefits.

CIOs working on the business

Collectively, CIOs are now spending much more time outside the IT function than in it. Across a given working period, CIOs were found to be spending on average 17% of their time in formal and informal discussions with the top executive and fellow CxOs. The focus for CIO discussions with the executive is:

• business strategy (55%),
• transformational change proposals (54%),
• issues of business profitability (39%)
• project briefings and programme status updates (39%)

They also collaborate with project stakeholders and organisational leaders (23% of their time on average), work to better understand customer requirements (11%), and negotiate and discuss their business strategy needs with service suppliers (11%).

Some 45% of CIOs are developing a broader business remit and view themselves more as strategic leaders. For them, there is the conviction that the main role for the IT organisations they lead is as a business change agency. The other set, who specifically direct and manage the technology side of the business have more of a task focus than a strategic focus on outcomes. They take the line that their role is principally about developing and delivering new business applications (26%), or managing the delivery of enterprise IT services (23%).

CIO experience a mix of commercial awareness and tech know-how

Today’s top CIO is increasingly likely to be regarded as executive or consultative in their leadership character. Two-thirds of CIOs now claim a balance of experience that’s shaped in equal measure in both tech and non-technology areas. They can offer an important blend of technology know-how and commercial awareness, gained inside and outside of their current organisations. Some 80% of the CIOs in the survey have broadened and enriched their leadership skills with cross-sector experience, moving from positions in financial services to media, from oil and gas to legal, from the entertainment industry to utilities, or hotel and catering to logistics companies.

”We are seeing CIOs emerging to take a leadership role in driving business change within their organisations,” said Nick Kirkland, CEO of CIO Connect. “The role is pivotal, and no more so than today with so much business turbulence. The CIO is well positioned to interpret how their organisation best addresses the complexities of an economic downturn; the avoidance of disruption in any resulting organisational restructuring; the challenge of globalisation; and the sustained business and social changes that are being forecast for the coming years.”

CIO expectations for 2009
Meeting executive demands for increased value (70%) and cost containment (45%) are regarded as a top agenda item for CIOs. A majority of CIOs manage an average annual spend of between £10 million and £50 million, and 40% of all CIOs expect their budget to remain unchanged in 2009. Other CIOs are split as to how it will be revised for next year, with roughly 30% expecting an increase and 30% planning a cut. Around 25% expect that some form of outsourcing will figure in their plans.

Almost 40% of CIOs expect to further rationalise the application portfolio by accelerating the retirement of legacy software assets and will continue specific cost reduction programmes around infrastructure platform consolidation, with extended use of techniques like virtualisation.

CIO challenges

CIOs say the unrealistic expectations of business stakeholders and the lack of clarity about future business needs (43%) are the biggest barriers to more effective outcomes from executive engagement.

Surprisingly, innovation is perceived as a low priority. CIOs do not seem to be taking little structured approach to innovation although one in five of all CIOs believes that more than anything else, the value they bring to their organisation is an ability to ‘think out of the box’ and a mindset that has them constantly on the look out for opportunities to innovate.

About CIO Connect

CIO Connect is the independent networking forum for top CIOs and their direct reports. CIO Connect helps CIOs and their teams to make a greater contribution to their business through the exchange of experiences with their peers in a trusted environment. With more than 250 members, including most of the FTSE 250 companies and high-profile public-sector organisations, CIO Connect runs a comprehensive programme of events including conferences, roundtables and special interest groups. CIO Connect also offers a unique online information service, a quarterly magazine, and conducts regular research on topics of relevance to CIOs. CIO Connect supports CIOs to become informed business and operational leaders.

For further information contact:

Paul Smith
Tel: +44 (0)7770 828525

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of The Amber Group in the following categories: Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit