May 08 2013

Survey: 14 Percent of U.S. CIOs Consider Themselves 'Game-Changers'

As the role of IT shifts, too many leaders still silo themselves into the service provider role.

The cries for CIOs to innovate and integrate more closely with business objectives have been ringing out for the past few years. But have CIOs made progress in changing the perception of their roles within the company? And more importantly, do CIOs view themselves as influencers of the business?

Emerson Network Power conducted a survey on CIOs and their future role and found that only 14 percent of U.S. CIOs viewed themselves as “business game-changers.” An overwhelming majority (42 percent) viewed themselves as merely IT service providers.

On a global level, American CIOs were second to only Asian CIOs (16 percent) in identifying themselves as “game-changers.” European and Latin Americans CIOs lagged behind with only 9 percent of Europe’s CIOs embracing that role and 10 percent for Latin America.

Steve Hassell, former Emerson CIO and current president of Emerson Network Power’s Avocent business, commented on the survey’s results in a press release saying, “It can be difficult to get off the hamster wheel of day-to-day operations, but trends such as social media, mobility and data-driven decision-making are only going to increase the importance of IT.”

While recognizing the shift in business and IT is important, CIOs must go beyond the recognition phase and step into roles that allow them to act.

Nigel Fenwick, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, believes one of the challenges that have slowed CIOs’ ability to influence business strategy has to do with a misguided focus on merely aligning with business goals. CIOs need to take it a step further and participate in the creation phase of company goals as well, he argues.

“We've found that fully integrated IT groups don't try to create an IT strategy that aligns with some defined business strategy. Instead they co-create a business strategy with a technology component,” Fenwick wrote in an InformationWeek article.

The full report from Emerson Network Power on “The CIO of the Future” can be downloaded in PDF form.