The changing role of the CIO: What it means for you

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Anyone who has held the title of CIO or its equivalent probably won’t be surprised to learn that it’s undergoing a huge change these days. And according to a new study, there are plenty of challenges associated with this position as well.

Harvey Nash and KPMG found a number of trends in the recent survey of CIOs, The Creative CIO. According to the report, the position is growing in power with more than a third of CIOs (34%) reporting directly to the CEO of their organizations.

That’s more than have ever had this power structure according to the survey’s authors. And 57% of CIOs now sit on the executive board or senior leadership committee.

And the way these CIOs execute their positions have changed as well. According to the survey, CEOs now prefer their CIOs work on IT projects that make money over those that save money from 63% to 37%.

All this signals a big change from the past when IT had to beg for a seat at the table or to be considered anything more than a cost-center.

But not everything is changing for the better.

Challenges abound

Only 22% of those surveyed said they felt very well-positioned to fend off current and near-future cyberattacks (last year, that figure was 29%). And cyberattacks were also their primary security concerns.

When asked what gave them most cause for concern, respondents said:

  • organized cyberattacks (69%)
  • amateur attacks (48%)
  • insiders (40%)
  • spammers (37%)
  • foreign powers (27%), and
  • competitors (16%).

And 43% of those surveyed indicated such an attack would damage their organizations’ brands and operations to a great extent.

Yet while these executives are in a prime position to control their organization’s security, it seems many still aren’t being trusted with their budgets and priorities.

Outside influence

Most (84%) of CIOs said they don’t fully own their digital strategy and need to cooperate with colleagues outside of their departments.

And while the budgets for 45% of CIOs is increasing, many of these pros won’t have much of a say in how it’s spent. For 10% of CIOs, more than half of IT spend is controlled outside of IT. Another 10% said between 25% and 50% of spend is handled outside of the IT department.

Even in organizations with strong security culture and IT savvy, that can be a tough pill to swallow. It’s hard enough to convince those outside of IT that security is needed. And when it comes to having someone else cut the checks for it, it can be even worse.

Take heart

Still, it’s not all that bleak. CIOs are quite happy with their job status overall.

Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they were fulfilled by their current role. And a a third (34%) say that they have enjoyed pay increases while 57% have seen their pay remain the same.

One thing is for certain: As this role continues to change and evolve, it appears businesses are starting to value IT strategy more than in the past. And that could make it an attractive career option for many.

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