It’s the second-lowest bar in this Gartner chart that CIOs should study

As one of the industry’s most respected market research firms, Gartner is known for it rigorous surveys and statistically quantifiable advice for IT decision makers. Those in-depth reports are always worth a read, but it was a quick, informal audience poll at one of its recent live events that caught my eye.

Tweeting from its official account, Gartner shared a simple visual from its Catalyst conference, which took place earlier this month in San Diego:

My first thought was, “This is encouraging,” since having CIOs and leaders from other parts of the business share perspective has long been one of the goals of both parties. But maybe more important is the quarter of respondents who opted for the first “maybe.”

Even if CFOs, CMOs or other line of business execs don’t feel they’re completely on the same page as IT leaders, it’s critical that they at least feel they have a way to make their voices heard when technology decisions are made. There’s no way of knowing that the “tools” they refer to are — it could be ratting out CIOs to the CEO, for example, or it could be data they own or manage that could make a better case for changing the way IT contributes to a business strategy. (Hopefully it’s not some kind of blunt instrument.)

It’s often argued that seeing eye-to-eye isn’t necessarily ideal for organizations that want to be disruptive and competitive. In fact, many cite a necessary friction between members of a team to spur real innovation (Maybe not to the Amazon extreme, but whatever). With that in mind, the ability to influence is arguably more valuable than mere agreement. With that in mind, the priority for CIOs should be reducing the portion of that second group of “maybes” who feel they have little influence, rather than hoping the top bar grows longer and longer.

This obviously isn’t the more exhaustive or scientific research Gartner produces, but maybe it could be a starting point for some reflection among Canadian IT leaders. Pretend your peers in the C-Suite were taking this poll. How would they vote? And what does that say about you?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Shane Schick
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