This list explains what's really bothering your CIO right now

This list explains what's really bothering your CIO right now

Summary: Tech chiefs have got plenty of things to worry about – but here's what's really keeping them up at night.


CIOs have got plenty of plates to spin, whether that's worrying about life, death and reincarnation; pondering whether their boss thinks they're still up to the job; and keeping up with incessant technology change.

I'm just back from chairing a conference full of CIOs, and one of the sessions I ran involved the asking the assembled tech chiefs to debate the issues that are really bugging them right now.

Here's the list of top headaches for CIOs, put into a rough order of priority according to the number of times the issue was mentioned during the session:

  • Data (including issues with quality, governance, and usage)
  • Bring your own device
  • Risk and regulation
  • Outsourcing
  • Managing legacy systems (plus post-merger and acquisition integration)
  • Cloud and security
  • Delivering innovation
  • Cost versus quality and the need to do more with less
  • Globalising services
  • Time to market
  • Local market challenges
  • Mobile apps

BYOD is the specific technology issue giving CIOs sleepless nights, probably because it's such an obvious and ongoing issue, of interest not only to staff in general but also to executives and HR. After all, everybody thinks they're an expert on which gadgets should be allowed in the office.

But it's also a short term pain that should be relatively easy to resolve, compared to some of the bigger issues on the list which are mostly strategic, weightier issues.

Getting the best use out of corporate data came top of this informal poll (although nobody actually mentioned the word 'big' in relation to it) along with managing risk (a constant headache) and managing legacy systems (the black hole that can swallow as much as 70 percent of an organisation's IT budget).

After this came the thorny issue of delivering innovation (very hard to do when most of your budget is being swallowed by antique infrastructure) and doing more with less.

There's very little in the way of specific technologies on this list; CIOs are rightly looking at the big picture here rather than the specifics of technology (it's a pretty similar list to the one that emerged last time I ran this exercise). Indeed what it shows is that the problems facing CIOs aren't ones that change very often despite the relentless innovation promised by tech vendors.

Further reading

Topics: CXO, Big Data, Consumerization, Emerging Tech, Enterprise Software

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  • The whole "is the CIO still relevant" thing

    "pondering whether their boss thinks they're still up to the job"

    Actually, the survey in that article doesn't show that. It doesn't indicate whether the non-CIOs/non-CTOs were board members and CEOs.

    For all intents and purposes, the only thing the survey shows how people respond if pressed to answer the questions, it does *not* show if they really think about the questions outside of artificial circumstances.

    At least that's the impression I get without going through the login wall, and I really don't care to create a login just for a single silly survey.