CIO Development

Article CIO exclusion: business skill shortages constrain IT growth

Most CIOs say their IT organisations have the funding and organisational elasticity needed by their businesses, according to a survey of 1,400 IT leaders published by Gartner. It’s the CIOs’ lack of involvement with corporate executives in setting strategy and a shortage of business skills that are constraining IT departments.

Gartner Executive Programs conducted a worldwide survey of more than 1,400 CIOs and found that 61% of respondents feel they have the money necessary to meet their commitments; 58% said their IT organizations have the right mix of technical and organisational flexibility to get the job done. Although some individual IT departments might be cash-strapped or have technical skills gaps, “it’s not true of the majority,” said Mark McDonald, group vice president at Gartner EXP in Chicago. Instead, many CIOs are hard-pressed to find and retain enough IT staffers with sufficient business savvy.

“The predominant skills missing are business skills,” he said, adding that 63% of the CIOs surveyed by Gartner didn’t feel their IT staffs had the right mix or number of skills. According to the Gartner study, there’s a strong correlation between companies that use IT for competitive advantage and CIOs who work closely with CEOs and other business executives in setting corporate strategies.

CIOs who participated in the study cited four areas they need to focus on most to bolster the performance of their IT organisations over the next three years: business process improvement, enterprise architecture, business relationship management and business intelligence.

For their IT departments to make improvements in these areas, CIOs need to stop worrying so much about aligning IT with the business and focus more on effectively managing the expectations that business leaders have for the IT organisation, said McDonald. In addition, while many CIOs have helped their business peers make business process improvements within their divisions through various business/IT projects, it’s an area that often goes neglected in the IT department itself.

Another area that CIOs have overlooked is the pending retirement of baby boomer IT workers, said McDonald. “It’s something that everyone knows is going to come, but few people are taking proactive steps to address.”

According to the study, 86% of CIOs see innovation as critical to their company’s success, yet only 26% believe that their current level of innovation is good enough to meet their goals. The disconnect here, according to McDonald, are the cultural barriers and institutional mindset that often thwarts innovation. “If you believe your culture prohibits you from being innovative, then it’s true,” he said. However, he sees a tremendous opportunity for CIOs, since they are in a position to help deliver the kind of information their organisations need to drive innovation.

In the Gartner study, 47% of the respondents are based in North America, while 39% are located in Europe, 10% are in Asia/Pacific countries and 4% are in Latin America. The study found that IT budgets this year are expected to rise 3.44% in the U.S. and 3% internationally.

Contact Brinley Platts on 07973 745 640 at CIODEVELOPMENT.COM to find out how you can engage your colleagues and team on the issues raised by this article.