Empowering the CIO

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It sounds like a laudable, and very necessary, initiative; one aimed at empowering CIOs in large organisations to better embrace ambitious digital transformation agendas, and it comes from UK based global telco, BT, the former British Telecom. BT calls the initiative ‘Digital Possible’ and says it will build on insights from its most recent research, The BT CIO report 2016 – the digital CIO.

So what exactly is this report and what does it have to say about the digital CIO? First up, it’s a survey of 1030 senior IT decision makers in 11 countries -- Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the UK, Ireland and the USA.

Some of the findings are hardly surprising:

  • The impact of digital is such that the importance of the CIO at boardroom level continues to rise;
  • CIOs find themselves increasingly challenged to find the time to develop creative solutions for the business;
  • CIOs are clear on the most disruptive technology trends – cloud, mobility, collaboration and data;
  • 76 percent of large organisations across the world have, or plan to adopt, a 'multi-speed' approach to technology-led initiatives. (We talked about this only last week in this column);
  • Multiple teams are sourcing and commissioning core IT products and services without the involvement of the IT function.

The first of BT’s new services to hep CIOs meet the challenges of digital disruption is its Cloud Services Integrator that brings together BT’s and other cloud services.

BT seems to be suggesting that technology can enable CIOs to meet the challenges of digital disruption and transformation but in reality, many of those challenges are less to do with technology than with leadership, creativity, organisational inertia, organisational siloes and fiefdom protection.

As BT’s report says, “Senior IT decision makers said the pressures of digital transformation are creating new challenges for the CIO such as developing new business models to cope with increased connectivity and engagement (43 percent), implementing digital strategy organisation-wide (39 percent), and recruiting talent with appropriate digital skills (32 percent).

In the list of the biggest CIO challenges reported by survey respondents, only one was technology related, and it came last in importance.

Here’s the results.

  • More time spent dealing with corporate issues (43 percent);
  • Greater difficulty at getting multiple parties to buy into the adoption of new technologies (36 percent);
  • Less time for developing creative/innovative solutions for the business (36 percent);
  • Staff training pressures (34 percent);
  • Too many responsibilities 29 percent
  • Lack of knowledge around new technologies (21 percent);

However, in terms of what the market is looking for BT is certainly on the money with cloud. A perhaps surprising result of the survey was just how many CIOs reported their organisations as being “completely cloud-centric” (19 percent). A further 46 percent were predominately cloud-centric, with more than half of their applications and infrastructure in the cloud.

Just four percent were still fully on-premise.

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