Selling to the CIO


IDG recently published a study on the State of the CIO, (opt-in required) which surveyed 683 IT leaders.  Below are the highlights from that report.

Selling to the CIO – Digital Business

CIOs Embrace Strategist Charter as Digital Business Matures
IT leaders are expanding beyond a technology role, and driving new revenue streams and business models as organizations advance in their digital transformation journeys. CIOs share their perspective of the strategic role of the CIO along with their priorities and challenges for the upcoming year.  Specifically covered are:

  • How CIOs are currently allocating their time, and their expectation to focus on more strategic tasks in the future.
  • The expansion of CIO responsibilities, including areas of the business where they are taking on new projects.
  • Where CIOs feel they will have difficulty finding talent and the correct skill sets needed for digital transformation success.
  • The business and technology initiatives that will drive the most IT investment in 2019.

Selling to the CIO – Driving Revenue Streams & Business Models

IT leaders are expanding beyond a technology role, and driving new revenue streams and business models as organizations advance their digital transformation journeys.

67% of respondents are immersed in business strategist activities compared to only 53% of respondents to last year’s survey. Moreover, the 2019 research found that the majority of CIO respondents (88%) reported they were taking a more active role leading digital transformation efforts than any of their business counterparts —a perspective shared universally by strategic, functional and transformational CIOs.

As part of the strategist mandate, CIOs are now actively involved in fostering new ideas for products and services, including functioning as a catalyst for business, not just technology, innovation. Nearly a third (32%) of IT leaders survey described their most pivotal role as helping the organization identify which parts of the business could be transformed through the use of digital technologies. In comparison, slightly more than a quarter (26%) said IT’s primary contribution lies with identifying emerging technologies to aid in digital transformation, while 14% said IT’s expertise is suited for integrating new digital solutions into core enterprise systems.

CIOs’ daily agenda is also flush with more strategic work than in the past. This year’s survey found

  • 35% of IT executives are immersed in driving business innovation compared to 28% last year
  • 23% were involved in developing and refining business strategy vs. 21% last year

Beyond those efforts, IT leaders are spreading their wings to identify opportunities for competitive differentiation (21%), crafting new go-to-market strategies and technologies (19%) immersing themselves in market trends and customer requirements so they can lead the way with new commercial opportunities (16%).

Selling to the CIO – The CIOs Broader Mandate

As part of its broad strategist mandate, CIOs are also taking on new areas of responsibility, a trend cited by 81% of CIO respondents. Today’s CIO strategists have oversight of an expanded portfolio that includes new domains such as data analytics (64%), operations (43%), business development (38%), and customer service (32%), this year’s research found.

CIOs are also fully immersed in creating revenue generating initiatives that include new products and services—a reality cited by 62% of survey respondents. To facilitate this piece of their charter:

  • 55% of IT leaders have initiatives in place to better understand customer needs
  • 47% are creating teams focused on innovation
  • 40% are building business case scenarios with defined costs and benefits

Other ways IT leaders are helping formulate revenue-generating initiatives include building “test labs” or spaces to help evaluate ideas-in-progress (33%) and by cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit (32%).


Selling to the CIO – The Expanding Role of the CIO

Here’s what CIO’s say has been added to their plate:

  • Data Analytics 64%
  • Operations 43%
  • Business Development 38%
  • Customer Service 32%
  • Product Development 29%

CIOs’ continuously-expanding portfolio means their visibility within the business continues to be on the rise. Almost half (43%) of CIOs now report directly into the CEO. And when comes to how line of business (LOB) views IT leadership in terms of technology guidance, 41% of LOB characterize IT leadership as a strategic advisor, proactively identifying business needs and
making specific provider recommendations. Twenty one percent view the CIO as a consulting resource for advising on business need and technology choices. Only 18% see the CIO as a cautious voice of reason, followed by an autonomous player (11%), and then a risk assessor (10%).

Selling to the CIO – CIO’s Are Strategic Advisors to LOB

Here’s how LOB views IT:

  • Strategic Advisor 41%
  • Consultant 21%
  • Cautious Voice of Reason 18%
  • Autonomous Player 11%
  • Risk Assessor 10%

For all their gains, CIOs are still grappling with a disconnect between how they view their evolving role and what LOB sees. Case in point: While 32% of CIO respondents to the 2019 State of the CIO believe IT is essential for helping the various functions identify which parts of the business could be digitally transformed through the use of technologies, only 14% of LOB respondents said the same. Additionally, 19% of LOB believe the IT organization’s primary role in accelerating digital business is to provide technology guidance compared to 26% of IT leaders. Clearly, there is still work to be done to close this gap. At the same time, however, when LOB uses its own budgets to fund technology products or service purchases, it still relies heavily on IT. Nearly half (43%) of heads of IT respondents to this year’s survey said shared oversight between LOB and IT was most prevalent model at their organizations while 24% said IT retains complete oversight of projects. IT plays only
an advisory role, offering input upon request, at less than a fifth (18%) of responding companies.

Selling to the CIO – CIO’s & Digital Business

Digital business is viewed as a priority for CEOs

  • Lead digital business/digital transformation initiatives 38%
  • Upgrade IT data security to boost corporate resiliency 32%
  • Identify new data-driven business opportunities 30%
  • Collaborate with business leaders on major customer initiatives 28%
  • Help reach specific goal for corporate revenue growth 25%

Selling to the CIO – Getting Priorities Straight

CEO priorities for IT leaders also illustrate the scope of their expanding portfolios. In this year’s survey, the top CEO mandate for CIOs was to lead digital transformation and digital business efforts, cited by 38% of CIOs and moving up from third place in last year’s State of the CIO research. At the same time, CEOs expect IT leaders to identify new data-driven business opportunities (30%), increase IT/LOB collaboration (28%), and be actively involved in hitting goals for corporate revenue growth (25%).

There should be ample dollars to fund new initiatives as 57% of technology executives reported plans to increase IT budgets this year. On average, those survey respondents expecting increases project an 18% bump in funding. Amidst a jam-packed agenda, security still ranks high on CIOs’ priority list. Upgrading IT and data security is the second CEO priority for IT leaders, cited by 32% of respondents to the 2019 State of the CIO survey. Similar to last year, most organizations are addressing security issues by eliminating silos and establishing executive-level security posts. In this year’s survey, 94% of IT leaders say that their IT security strategy and IT strategy are either somewhat or tightly integrated, and 96% expect this same trend three years from now. Thirty-one percent of respondents have appointed a CISO and 13% have created a CSO position; most CSOs report to the CEO or Corporate CIO, and nearly half of CISOs (47%) report into the Corporate CIO.

While security/risk management ranked high on the list of tech initiatives that will drive IT investments, cited by 26% of this year’s survey respondents, it took a back seat to other areas, including data analytics, which dominated for 30% of responding organizations. Cloud computing was cited by 27% of heads of IT and enterprise applications like ERP or CRM was a priority for 26%. The top business initiatives on the docket this year were:

  • increasing operational efficiency and cybersecurity protections, both cited by 40% of CIOs, followed by customer experience (35%)
  • growing the business (31%)
  • transforming existing business processes (31%)

With the heightened emphasis on data analytics, it’s no surprise that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning investments were also in the spotlight this year. Fourteen percent of CIO respondents to this year’s survey say that AI will drive IT investment in 2019, up from 8% last year, and 10% say the same for machine learning and cognitive systems.

Top Tech Initiatives Driving IT Investments (Head of IT)

  • Data/Business Analytics 30%
  • Cloud Computing 27%
  • Enterprise Applications (CRM,ERP,etc.) 26%
  • Security/Risk Management 26%
  • Customer Experience Technologies 19%

Top Tech Initiatives Driving IT Investments (LOB)

  • Cloud Computing 25%
  • Security/Risk Management 23%
  • Data/Business Analytics 18%
  • Customer Experience Technologies 12%
  • Enterprise Applications (CRM,ERP,etc.) 11%

Selling to the CIO – CIO’s Under Pressure to Defend Investments & Prove ROI

81% of CIOs feel that they are under extreme pressure to defend their technology investments and to demonstrate ROI

CIOs are also under pressure to defend technology investments and prove ROI for these new digital
business initiatives, a mandate cited by 81% of heads of IT. Only 18% of those surveyed didn’t feel they were under the gun to defend IT investments and prove ROI.

One of the more glaring issues is finding talent with the right skills to support digital transformation and the IT agenda. IT respondents to this year’s survey are struggling to find:

  • data science and analytics skills (42%)
  • security and risk management skills (33%)
  • AI/machine learning skills (31%)
  • cloud services/ integration expertise (22%)

Technology skills aren’t the only gaps: Forty percent of respondents are actively seeking employees with change management and strategy building skills, 32% are targeting project management acumen, and 25% are in need of business relationship management skills.

Additional Go to Market Resources From Four Quadrant

CIOs Are Driving Digital Investments >>

CIOs Guide to Data Analytics Investments >>

IT Technology Spending Forecast Details >>

MegaTrends in Analytics >>

How Digital is Reshaping B2B Marketing >>

Go to Market Strategies & Tactics >>

Strategic Account Planning Template >>

Go to Market Strategy Planning Template >>

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