Mark McDonald

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark P. McDonald
GVP EXP
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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Leading in Times of Transition: the 2010 CIO Agenda

by Mark P. McDonald  |  January 19, 2010  |  16 Comments

These years 2010 Gartner CIO Survey captured the priorities and plans of more than 1,500 CIOs.  The CIOs reported that they see 2010 as a time of transition across three areas:

  • Economically from recession to recovery and growth
  • Strategically from a focus on cost cutting efficiency to raising enterprise and IT productivity
  • Technology transition from heavier weight technologies to lighter weight technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing and web 2.0.

CIOs report that 2010 IT budgets are projected to be flat increasing by a weighted global average of 1.3 percent in nominal terms, compared with 2009 levels where IT budgets declined 8.1 percent.

2009 was the most challenging year for IT since the survey began in 1999, and CIOs had faced multiple budget cuts wiping away four years of budget increases, giving CIOs basically the same level of resources as they had in 2005.  While there are some signs of recovery in the 2010 projections, these will not overcome last year’s cuts.

2009 was the most challenging year for CIOs in the corporate and public sectors.  These CIOs faced multiple budget cuts, delayed spending and increased demand for services with reduced resources.  While technologies are transitioning from “heavy” owner-operated solutions to “lighter-weight” services, CIOs are, in turn, transitioning IT beyond merely managing resources to taking responsibility for managing results.

These transitions give the enterprise and IT the opportunity to reposition themselves and exploit the tough corrective actions taken during the recession.  CIOs see 2010 as an opportunity to accelerate IT’s transition from a support function to strategic contributor focused on innovation and competitive advantage.  They have aspired to this shift for years, but economic, strategic and technological changes have only recently made it feasible.

These survey findings show that, in the near term, business expectations and CIO strategies appear stable, with a continued focus on business process improvement, cost reduction and analytics (see Table 1).

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Business expectations are shifting from a focus on greater cost-based efficiencies, to achieving better results based on enterprise and IT productivity.  These productivity gains will come from collaborative and innovative solutions that take advantage of the new “lighter-weight” services-based and social media technologies, including virtualization, cloud computing and Web 2.0 social computing.  This transition can be seen in the top 10 technology priorities for CIOs in 2010 where business intelligence, the No. 1 technology the past five years, dropped to the No. 5 priority.

These strategic, “lighter-weight” technologies are of increasing importance to the CIO.  Exploiting them provides the cost, capacity and capability gains needed to define, source, create and deploy information- and process-intensive solutions that will reshape IT and its future role.

Moreover, the technologies that CIOs are prioritizing in 2010 are technologies that can be implemented quickly and without significant upfront expense, instead of investing millions of dollars to get millions in benefits, with these technologies, up front investments are measured in thousands of dollars to get those same benefits.

Lightweight technologies, implemented properly, create the opportunity for IT to change its role and the operational performance of the enterprise.  Asymmetric technologies like virtualization, cloud and Web 2.0 enable companies to get out from under a front-loaded heavy investment model that limits IT’s agility and flexibility.

While enterprises will transition at different rates and times, every CIO faces the need to raise productivity, create new capabilities and use the recovery to drive fundamentals of the current agenda and the repositioning of IT.  Such transitions will not happen overnight but they will start with the decisions and directions established in 2010.

This year’s survey collected data in the middle of the economic changes in the fourth quarter of 2009.  As such, it provides a snapshot of CIO plans, priorities and budgets for 2010 as they stood at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009.  They represent Gartner’s best current indication of CIO plans at this time.

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