Enterprise technology resurges beyond IT leaders' grasp

Survey finds CEOs are getting more intimately involved in enterprise decisions, potentially usurping CIO and other traditional IT leaders' roles.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer
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Money is flowing back into enterprise technology budgets, but there are a couple of catches. First, CEOs are getting more directly involved in technology decisions, usurping the roles of CIOs to some degree. Second, there may not be enough skilled professionals to go around to make digital strategies a reality.

Those are the key takeaways from a recent survey of 3,200 CIOs, conducted and released by Harvey Nash, which finds the highest levels of optimism among IT practitioners since the days preceding the 2007 financial crisis.

In the survey, which covered CIOs across the globe, 46 percent said their IT budgets grew over the past year, up from 42 percent in the 2013 survey, reflecting the highest level of budget growth since 2006 — when 47 percent of technology leaders experienced budget growth.

Interestingly, this doesn't reflect the technology purchasing plans for non-IT managers, such as chief marketing officers. Strictly IT budgets are doing much better, but if added to the mix, it may paint a very positive picture for technology growth. However, CIOs may find they have a somewhat diminishing role in this new boom.

To this end, top business leaders are getting more directly involved with technology decisions. Even CEOs are calling some of the shots, the Harvey Nash survey finds. Almost two-thirds of CEOs (63 percent) now prioritize projects that generate revenues — such as digital marketing, customer-oriented systems and innovation-led projects — over projects designed to deliver cost savings or improve operational performance. Cutting costs was the leading priority for the five years between 2009 and 2013. 

The survey also finds seven percent of organizations now employ chief digital officers, usurping, to some degree, the roles of CIOs in shaping digital strategy. The survey finds 50 percent are playing an active role in 2014, down from 56 percent just last year.

It's also harder to find and recruit the talent needed to move digital strategy from the drawing boards to actual implementations. Sixty percent of technology leaders said they are experiencing a skills shortage within their teams, preventing their company from keeping up with its competitors. This is up from 45 percent last year, and represents the biggest increase since the survey started tracking this area in 2005, says Harvey Nash. Skills most in demand include change management, project management skills, hands-on software development skills and IT strategy.

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