CIOs pessimistic about their own technology

A survey finds that most chief information officers do not believe their IT is reliable or gives their company an advantage

Eight out of ten chief information officers (CIOs) believe their own IT solutions fail to provide competitive advantage to their organisation.

According to a survey commissioned by change management specialist Serena Software, IT directors who think they can help their employers beat the competition are in a tiny minority.

But their chief executives are slightly more optimistic about the potential impact of technology: six out of ten said that it can provide that elusive competitive edge.

When it comes to their place within companies, 41 per cent of CIOs see their role as providing a utility service. Only 17 per cent said they were there to deliver real competitive advantage to the business.

CIOs are also more pessimistic -- or perhaps realistic -- than chief executives when predicting failure rates. More than 65 percent of their projects achieve less than 75 percent of the expected value, they said.

Mark Slater, UK general manager at Serena Software, said: "The research identified some unusual patterns. For example, although IT issues were the number one reason given by chief executives for loss of sleep, the CIO is much more pessimistic about both the importance of their role, and the likelihood of failure. If the chief executive knew how the CIO felt, then they probably wouldn't get any sleep at all."

The research also found that the average UK company will run 48.6 IT projects per year, costing £37.7m in total at an average of just over £775,000 each.

CIOs believe that a systems failure will cost their business five times the amount of money their chief executive would estimate. The average direct internal cost of system failure over the duration of a year is approximately £129,000, according to the technology bosses surveyed. This does not include indirect costs, such as loss of revenue through downtime or loss of reputation.

In this area, CIOs and chief executives also had a different view: the biggest concern for chief executives was reputation damage, whereas CIOs fear loss of revenue the most.

Slater added: "We expected to see a trend of CIOs overvaluing their role and chief executives undervaluing it, but the reverse seems to be true. Today's CIO seems to be a bit gloomy. Not only do they feel that their projects have a low success rate but they are not sure what value they bring to the organisation they work for.

"In contrast, the chief executive appears to value what the CIO delivers and is much more upbeat about project success rates. There is clearly a communication gap here. Perhaps the chief executive needs to tell the CIO that their role is more important to the company than they think," he said.

The research was carried out by Winmark Research who interviewed 35 chief executives and 243 CIOs from a broad mix of UK businesses.

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