Gartner: tech complexity not greatest threat to CIOs

Summary:The most important and alarming point Gartner Fellow Richard Hunter repeated throughout his talk was that, on average, CIOs spend less than 1 percent of their budgets on managing risks related to the flexibility and agility of the IT organizations. That is, they do not work hard enough on the essential core competencies of IT--project, program, and process management.

The most important and alarming point Gartner Fellow Richard Hunter repeated throughout his talk

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was that, on average, CIOs spend less than 1 percent of their budgets on managing risks related to the flexibility and agility of the IT organizations. That is, they do not work hard enough on the essential core competencies of IT--project, program, and process management.  

During a session at the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo, Hunter talked about the impact of complexity on CIOs. He clarified early on that the term does not imply fault or failure; in fact, certain kinds of complexity indicate a sign of success for IT organizations.  Hunter pointed out that CIOs are now managing a bigger, more complex base of technology that they used to.  He said that a stable ratio of IT spending from 1997 through 2004 masks a massive jump in IT spending by about 50% for the same time period. Consequently, that requires bigger solutions and changes that, "add significant complexity in human terms to what is already increasingly complex in technology terms." And it's been coming faster than CIOs had expected. According to results from the 2004-5 EXP CIO surveys, CIOs have been getting more complexity than they had envisioned. But technological complexity is familiar territory to CIOs of large organizations.  Complexity is not a sign that something is wrong unless effectiveness is decreasing. To the contrary: "A large number of ongoing technical initiatives correlate to high business and IT effectiveness," said Hunter.  "People and process---not technology---are the keys to mastering new complexities." Hunter listed three important things CIOs need to do to move in the right direction:

  • Governance, which is about input and decision rights, hence roles and reponsibilties; hence people and process.
  • Reskilling the IT organization, especially to greater competency in project and management and to higher emotional IQ.
  • Making decisions about what to retain within IT and what to drop or outsource.

During his summary, Hunter also recommended CIOs to hire business people into the IT organization to improve the ability to manage new business-oriented complexity.

Topics: CXO

About

Christopher Jablonski is a freelance technology writer. Previously, he held research analyst positions in the IT industry and was the manager of marketing editorial at CBS Interactive. He's been contributing to ZDNet since 2003. Christopher received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at U... Full Bio

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