Canadian CEOs Value IT: Study

Canadian CEOs view IT and e-commerce as higher corporate priorities than their executive counterparts in other countries, according to a recent survey by global management consulting firm Compass Group.

More than 400 global CEOs, including 25 from Canada, were polled for The Compass World IT Strategy Census 2000, which was conducted by the London Business School. The study focused on CEOs’ opinions about IT’s contribution to business success, the impact of e-commerce, and management expectations of the role and performance of their CIOs.

“What we saw from the results is that CEOs in Canada particularly rated the contribution of IT as high,” says Howard Davies, senior vice-president and director of Compass Group. “Also the role of the CIO in Canadian companies is more aligned to working at the board level, supporting business strategy directly, than in other companies in general around the world.”

Overall, 71 per cent of the Canadian CEOs polled said improved IT performance is a highly important issue for business success, as opposed to 40 per cent of global CEOs who ranked IT improvements as a top concern. In addition, e-commerce was ranked as a high priority by 76 per cent of Canadian CEOs, compared to 52 per cent of CEOs worldwide.

In terms of what CEOs expect from their IT executives, according to Davies, Canadian CEOs demonstrated a higher level of confidence in their CIOs’ ability to contribute to business strategy decisions by being directly involved at the board level. On the other hand, global CEOs continue to view the CIO as being a supporting player within the enterprise, giving high ranking to the following CIO tasks: keeping users and business managers satisfied; providing systems to support the business strategy; building a sound IT infrastructure; and educating the CEO on IT trends.

CEOs around the world and in Canada all agreed that IT will drive the e-commerce strategies of their companies, and according to Davies, there is a high expectation that CIOs will be heavily involved in those strategies.

The survey revealed Canadian CEOs are further along in their e-commerce plans than business leaders in other parts of the world, Davies says. While many global companies have only just begun to invest in Web technologies, Canadian organizations are at the stage where they expect to see a measurable return on the investments they have made in the last one or two years, he adds.

“In most countries, the perception still is that e-commerce is a marketing tool, a way to communicate and get access to more and more customers,” Davies says. “Whereas in Canada, the expected value of e-commerce is more about actually delivering more efficient operational activity and better management of customers.”

The Compass World IT Strategy Census 2000 is Compass Group’s fourth annual study. In total, survey responses were received from 412 chief executives in 11 countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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