CIO Insider Survey: status, skills, salaries, and more

Well, the results of our first annual CIO Insider Survey have been tallied and some interesting light has been shed on the state of the IT executive profession in Canada. Some of the key findings are presented below, along with comments from several prominent IT leaders. Many more notable findings are available on our site.

The good news is that the joke about CIO standing for ‘Career Is Over’ appears to have run its course. Canadian CIOs are staying longer in their jobs. Their average tenure is now five and a half years, almost a full year longer than their American counterparts. We believe that this finding suggests that CIOs are gradually enhancing their stature within the organization and becoming more valued members of the senior management team. And we’re not alone in our thinking.

“I absolutely agree,” said Allen Borak, VP Information Services for Canadian Pacific Railway. “We went through an era of too many ‘gunslinger’ CIOs, who wanted to get in, make a quick splash and a few bucks, and then get out before they had to deal with the implications of their decisions. In my experience, significant business change takes three to five years to settle in, so a CIO who is around for less than that will not have to experience the upside and downside of what they create.”

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Added Sav DiPasquale, VP IT and CIO of GlaxoSmithKline Inc, “More and more, I see CIOs being asked to champion company-wide change or integration initiatives, to establish company-wide Project Management Offices, or to lead innovation. All are signals that the CIO role has enhanced its stature at the executive level.” More than 70 per cent of survey respondents said they have backgrounds in IT, which suggests that the trend towards appointing CIOs from other areas of the business has never really gained much traction.

Respondents did, however, cite ‘communications’, ‘strategic thinking and planning’, and ‘understanding business processes and operations’ as the most important elements for their success. This appears to indicate that CIOs believe ‘Job One’ for them is to ensure that IT realizes its potential as a key enabler of organizational strategy and business competitiveness.

“I would agree,” said Alex Federucci, CIO of Talisman Energy. “And I’d also add that understanding business challenges and opportunities is critical.”

Toyota Canada Director & CIO, Hao Tien, pointed to another key success factor. “I feel that the ability to execute the plan is important. Without the ability to deliver, the CIO will lose his/her credibility at the executive table. I have seen many of my colleagues who are strategic thinkers but come up short in execution skills and end up with a career change.”

Added CPR’s Allen Borak, “More and more, the business is looking to me to take full lifecycle responsibility for the information that we use. This is good and does take IS further into the business to the point of not just understanding business processes, but rather helping design and improve those processes.

There were 254 respondents to the survey, and 85% were male. Year over year trend data will be available when the results of subsequent CIO Insider Surveys are published.

Many more survey results are available online. For a limited time, the report (a $49.95 value) is available at no charge, compliments of Cisco Systems Canada. The survey can be found at

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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