Last week the CIO Leadership Forum landed in London at Heathrow Terminal 5 where more than 250 CIOs shared their experiences, ideas and concerns. This week Huntington Beach California, outside Los Angeles hosted the North American event where more than 350 CIOs gathered to discuss the theme of “Digital Enterprise and Beyond.” Part of the event featured CIOs providing their insight into the same polling questions as in London.
Significant potential remains for enterprises to use technology.
Enterprises have realized less than 20% of technology’s potential for almost half of the CIOs attending this year’s North American event, shown in the figure below. This is well below the global average from the 2013 CIO survey of 43% but better than their European counterparts 55% of who believed the same low level of realization.
Why is the number so low?
The potential of technology is expanding. Clearly this is the case as the introduction of digital technologies, also known as the Nexus, expands the range of technology possibilities. If more things are possible, then by definition the realization of those possibilities will shrink.
At the same time as technology potential is growing, IT’s capacity to deliver that technology has declined in the face of a decade of CIO IT budget devaluation, skill gaps and uneven business demand. The simple reason for a low rate of realization is that cost realization has been more important for many than realizing business capability. See the next set of results for more details.
What is apparent, however, is that traditional barriers of organizational readiness for new technologies or enterprise change capacity have declined in importance both in Europe and in North America. CIOs and IT can no longer assign blame to a business that is readily adopting digital technology – often in the form of ‘shadow IT‘ – or working with greater agility. Those arguments are increasingly less common or potent.
CIOs in North America are aggressively hunting for digital innovation.
The 2013 CIO agenda outlined three behavior profiles for CIOs and IT: Tending, Hunting and Harvesting. These behaviors are explained in the announcement of the agenda report (Follow this link). CIOs attending the Leadership Forum appear to strongly favor a focus on hunting for digital innovation as shown in the figure below.
Half of CIOs attending the event see hunting as the role that describes the majority of your work for the coming year. That figure is 10 points higher in North America than it was in Europe a week ago. In Europe, tending to current operations dominated at 48%. While North American appetites for innovation may be greater than in Europe at the present time, CIOs in both regions are underplaying the single reason why you have IT – business results.
It is no wonder that CIOs give low estimates of technology realization, the prior question, when almost all of them are ignoring the behavior that raises technology realization– HARVESTING.
Harvesting is a remote activity for CIOs representing 14% of CIOs in London and 17% in North America. Yet it is the behavior that is focused on raising business performance. CIOs can easily squander their resources either via standing firm with current solutions (tending) or chasing digital opportunities (hunting) but they earn a return based on how well the harvest and too few people are concentrating on that critical role.
CIOs see their future success in doing new things
Given the two prior results, the answers to the final survey question were not surprising. When asked, which type of activity do you think will be most important to your success in 2013?
The answer was clear – doing new things. See the figure below.
Doing new things should result in creating new or different results. That simple logic – new activities = new results—makes sense on the surface, but it belies a weakness in IT. With 61% concentrating on doing new things, the real question is what stops in order to start new things. Based on the responses, perhaps nothing, which means that CIOs are accretive leaders.
This presents a challenge, as most CIOs do not have additional funding to support additional activities. This means that something has to give and too often it has been quality, schedule, or our people in IT. CIOs can rationalize this in a world where controlling cost is the game. But when the business expects results, expects technology to support growth and innovation, the bar is much higher and the consequences more severe for everyone.
CIOs need to reform IT, re-unite it with the business rather than just throwing another project on the fire, a new technique or tool into the organization or making more commitments it knows it can only partially keep. That may have working in the past, but it will not work in the digital decade.
The digital enterprise and beyond – the 2013 CIO Leadership Forum
Despite these findings, CIOs contributing to this week’s event in Huntington Beach reflected a sense of optimism, opportunity and focus. The digital world is one where creating a digital edge requires more than implementing and operating technology. It involves transforming business, technology and the people all of which raise new issues, complexity and leadership challenges. The leadership forum initiated the dialogue on how to lead in the future through workshops, presentations and interactive networking.
My thanks to those who took the time out of their schedule to contribute to the discussion, learn, ask and share.
My thanks to the Gartner Analysts, Staff and Professionals creating this tremendous experience.
My hope is for your success in the coming year as we all look to realize the digital enterprise and beyond.