Moving up the strategy food chain: CIO Insider’s Survey

The numbers are in on our CIO Insiders’ Survey 2007, conducted in August, and once again respondents have provided us with many interesting findings to mull over. The survey was taken by 236 people, three quarters of whom (74.5%) identified themselves as the senior IT executive in their organization.

The strongest impression left on me by the survey was the confidence respondents displayed in their ability to influence and help guide the strategic direction of the business. Not long ago, the CIO’s contribution to corporate strategy was pretty much confined to the strategic IT plan. This appears to be changing fairly rapidly.

While many would argue that CIOs still have a long way to go in becoming equal partners with their C-level peers when it comes to contributing to business strategy, survey respondents gave a strong indication that significant progress is being made in this area. When asked to identify the top three activities important to their job as CIO, two of the three most frequent responses were in the area of business strategy: ‘Strategic business planning’, mentioned by 55.6% of respondents, and ‘Making strategic business decisions’, mentioned by 54.7% of respondents.

Clearly, a large number of CIOs already see themselves as key contributors to business strategy, and this is underscored by a couple of other findings. When asked to identify which activities they spend the most time on, the third most frequently mentioned activity was ‘Strategic business planning’ (54.2%), trailing only ‘Interacting with your company’s CXOs and business execs’ (63.6%) and ‘Making strategic systems decisions’ (60.2%), both of which are closely aligned with business strategy.

And if that’s not enough evidence that CIOs are really moving up the strategy food-chain, how about this: when asked to identify three personal skills most pivotal to their success as CIO, more than two thirds of respondents (68.2%) cited ‘Strategic thinking and planning’, second only to ‘Ability to communicate effectively’ (75%).

While a comfortable majority of respondents appear to view themselves as important contributors to corporate strategy, their companies are somewhat lagging when it comes to sharing that view. When asked to describe their organization’s philosophy on the IT organization’s primary role, nearly half (47.4%) described it as tactical, while a slight majority (52.6%) said it was strategic. So though CIOs are moving in the right direction on strategy, there’s still plenty of road left to travel. For a more comprehensive look at the findings of the CIO Insiders’ Survey 2007, watch for CIO Canada publisher Dan McLean’s upcoming road show on the survey. We’ll also be publishing more results in a future issue.

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