CIOs: innovation? What innovation?

New survey of 2,000 chief information officers finds widespread inability to innovate; and a lot of concern about finding and retaining skills. Top recruiting target: enterprise architects.

A new survey of 2,000 chief information officers finds only three percent believe their organization's innovation potential has been fully realized. This is even worse than last year's five percent.

Organizations are leaning heavy on their IT experts to deliver innovation that will open up markets and better understand customer trends. But this isn't happening yet. CIOs' glum attitudes about their employers' capacity to innovate were captured in a new survey by Harvey Nash USA.

Perhaps it's because they're too busy trying to keep the lights on to dive into the innovation side as much as they would like. Or perhaps the fact that only 30% received raises in the past year -- while 60% still are still experiencing pay freezes -- is adding to the glum.

The survey also finds CIOs are extremely concerned about staffing skills, and acknowledge that many parts of their businesses outside of IT are taking the reins of technology purchases. 

The vast majority, 93%, say retention of talent is a concern. For example, 34% say they are short on big data skills. The most sought-after skills include enterprise architects (42%) and business analysts (38%). 

More CIOs are relying on contract IT labor. Te survey finds that 14% of CIOs now have more than half their staff on flexible contracts, compared to 9% last year.

CIOs say they are losing more direct control of their technology vision and sharing it with other departments. Forty-three percent of CIOs say there is a degree of shared ownership of digital technology between the IT and marketing teams. A growing number of CIOs see more than 10% of their budgets controlled outside of the IT department: 38% today, compared to 34% in 2012 and 26% in 2011.

Big investment areas this year include cloud (63%), mobility (62%) and collaboration (46%).

A couple of interesting quotes to come out of the study:

"Core skills are shifting every day; advanced statistics, data visualization and DevOps are all recent requirements and in short supply. Finding people who are curious, multi-skilled, and can operate effectively in two or three related disciplines is a key part of bringing teams together and bridging silos."

- Richard McLaren, Managing Director, Data and Sciences, Mi9

"With big changes in how we must platform core capabilities being driven primarily by cloud and packaged cloud apps, we are faced now with fundamental decisions that feel more like buying services than the traditional orientation of 'building' capabilities. This 'shift' also poses a huge talent and skills challenge—again, away from build and run, towards internal consulting and complex vendor management."

- Rob Cain, CIO Enabling Functions, The Coca-Cola Company

(Thumbnail photo credit: Joe McKendrick.)