CIOs More Glass Half Full than Empty Types

The 2014 survey of CIOs across four continents by Harvey Nash PLC shows them to be a largely optimistic group because of larger investments in technology. Companies are moving away from cost containment as the economy improves.

“We are seeing a new spirit of optimism amongst CIOs. Growing budgets, a shift from cost saving to investment, innovation a key objective, digital transformation and an increasingly strategic role for many CIOs all point to a positive sense of expectation about new opportunities that lie ahead,” says Albert Ellis, chief executive, Harvey Nash, of the company’s 14th annual survey that reached more than 3200 participants in 30 different countries.

An article at tempers the enthusiasm of the report somewhat. It says, “That might all seem like good news, but in reality the survey showed no elevation of CIOs in the corporate hierarchy: the percentage of CIOs reporting to the CEO has been static at 32 percent for the past three years.”

The Whatech article also points out problems with the next generation of IT professionals. It would appear they don’t see a strategic value for the CIO position within organizations.
“The survey,” the article said, “specifically solicited responses from IT professionals in their 20s and 30s ‘IT managers, senior architects, analysts and associate directors … on a career trajectory that could take them to the top IT job one day.’ These people, it said, ‘came of age when technology was already centrally important to customer engagement and organizational growth [and] grew up respecting technologists like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but idolizing figures like Mark Zuckerberg, [Twitter founder] Jack Dorsey or, even, Edward Snowden for their vision for a 21st century Internet.’ Only 53 percent of this sample thought the CIO role was strategic, compared to 66 percent of current CIOs.

Writing at Alcatel-Lucent, Dean Samuels, Chief Information Officer, Genesys, says, in effect, those younger IT folks need to get a better understanding of what is a CIO does. They need to better prepare themselves for greater roles if they advance.
“CIOs are increasingly being asked to participate in long-term strategic business transformation initiatives, while concurrently managing the IT organization and systems that support ongoing business operations,” Samuels say. “Certainly, a CIO who is exclusively preoccupied with operational platforms and process improvements might not foresee business-changing opportunities inspired by strategic technology innovations. As the evolving CIO role becomes more strategic, with innovation and transformation taking center stage, we see a new generation of technology executives at the helm.”

He adds, “Evolving the CIO’s role from what has typically been an IT operations management function into a business-enabling role can inspire the creative and collaborative cultures that make superior service experiences happen. The new, strategic CIO’s unique insight into both business and technology allows executives to have an improved perspective for choosing IT investments that yield the highest impact for achieving business goals.”

Other findings from the survey via,

  • 44 percent of executives describe themselves as CIOs, up from 11 percent a decade ago
  • 32 percent of CIOs report to their CEO, and 18 percent report to the CFO
  • 50 percent of CIOs sit on their organization’s executive committee, up from 38 percent a decade ago
  • 46 percent of CIOs and other tech leaders say their IT budgets are increasing, up from 25 percent five years ago
  • 41 percent say they’ve been in their current role for at least five years, and 78 percent describe themselves as feeling “quite” or “very” fulfilled with their job
  • One-half would like to be in a new role within two years, but just 21 percent say they’re actively seeking and applying for a job
  • 43 percent would like to move on to a more senior-level IT position, compared to 32 percent who would like to become a CEO or other non-tech senior leader
  • 31 percent say their salary has risen in the last 12 months, but 60 percent say their compensation has remained flat
  • 53 percent say their personal bonus is linked to their ability to meet or surpass key performance indicators
  • 90 percent are either concerned or have a “great concern” over the retention of their IT talent
  • 50 percent say that IT owns the digital strategy (as opposed to the marketing department), down from 56 percent last year


Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.