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CIO Focus


These are challenging times for the nation’s chief information officers — and speed is of the essence.

An annual survey of global CIOs found that digital innovation is actively causing disruption to business models, requiring IT leaders to move quickly to deliver new infrastructures, platforms and applications to meet customers’ fast-changing needs. An overwhelming two-thirds of all CIOs believe digital disruption is now a very significant change to business, according to the “Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2015,” done in association with KPMG.

And while last year’s survey suggested that chief marketing officers (CMOs) were owning and leading the digital agenda, the 2015 survey detected a change in the wind. It described a “boomerang” effect, with IT organizations either collaborating with the CMOs or taking on the responsibility for themselves. Forty-seven percent of respondents claimed shared ownership of digital by IT and marketing, up from 40% last year.

Digital Officers: In a revealing statistic, there has been a significant increase in the number of chief digital officers appearing on the IT landscape. Almost 1-in-5 CIOs now work with a chief digital officer — up 7% from last year. An additional 5% report that hiring is underway for a digital officer.

“What’s most striking about the results is the speed of change,” said Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash Group. “In the 17 years we have conducted the survey, we have never seen a new role grow so quickly as we have the chief digital officer. We have never seen demand for a skill expand so quickly as we have for big data analytics. As technology increasingly becomes focused on the customer, the IT, marketing and operations teams are increasingly working together in new ways.”

The survey finds the role of the chief digital officer varies by companies. In companies where the position exists, only 47% have the designated digital officer take full leadership of the digital strategy. The remaining companies prefer to have the CIO, CMO or CEO take the lead.

In other key findings:

  • Retail CIOs responded that nearly 7% of their companies’ annual sales are spent on IT.

  • Over half (56%) of CIOs believe the most important component of successful digital activity is having an IT infrastructure that allows greater innovation/agility, alongside using digital to create new revenue streams (56%), and using mobile platforms to engage with customers (54%).

  • As in previous years, software development and data centers remain the most favored outsourcing functions by CIOs. However, demand for software application development is falling, while data center demand is growing. Networks and software maintenance outsourcing seems to be going out of fashion. Both have seen steady declines over the last six years.

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