Sneak Peek at 'Defining the CIO' Research - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
4/18/2007
10:54 AM
Brian Gillooly
Brian Gillooly
Commentary
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Sneak Peek at 'Defining the CIO' Research

Well, Nation, we've just received the results of our fifth annual "Defining the CIO" research, a survey of 575 business and IT professionals about the evolving role of the CIO in business. And I'm happy to report, given some of my recent postings deriding recent third-party reports supposedly chronicling the demise or decline in influence of the CIO, that our research refutes just about every aspect of those other studies and media coverage...

Well, Nation, we've just received the results of our fifth annual "Defining the CIO" research, a survey of 575 business and IT professionals about the evolving role of the CIO in business. And I'm happy to report, given some of my recent postings deriding recent third-party reports supposedly chronicling the demise or decline in influence of the CIO, that our research refutes just about every aspect of those other studies and media coverage...But before you think I'm a glassy-eyed champion of the CIO, (and before I feed you some tidbits from the report), I'll reiterate a point I made in a previous post about how Optimize covers CIOs. As I said, we would be doing a disservice to the profession if we didn't provide an accurate depiction of both the opportunities and the challenges facing CIOs today.

In our December research report on CIO effectiveness , we showed that CIOs, while receiving passing or high grades in most categories, still didn't ace the exam when evaluated by some of their peers on such issues as business innovation and vision. So, as we get set to unveil the results of this most recent "Defining the CIO" study, I preface it by saying the results are good -- quite good, in fact -- but there is no bias in trying to prop up the CIO as something better than he or she actually is. The full report will be published in our June issue. But first an interesting data point from the study, and one that I've been in the market predicting for the past two years...

Back in 2005, we saw a somewhat disturbing trend in the number of CIOs who were reporting to CFOs. We interpreted that to mean (as did just about every CIO I asked) that they were losing some influence in the business, that the companies were beginning to view IT -- after the dot-com bubble burst -- as more of a cost center than as a department for promoting business innovation. In 2003, the first year we did the study, 8% of CIOs reported to CFOs (58% reported to CEOs). The next year, the number nearly doubled to 15%, and in 2005, the figure jumped to 21%. Just about everyone we discussed those figures with were alarmed that perhaps the CIO profession was on a decline (obviously, other factors at the time contributed to that feeling; no one felt that reporting structure alone represented something particularly heinous for the CIO).

However, during that summer, and occasionally throughout the past year-plus, I predicted that we'd see that number decline as companies began to ease their concerns about IT spending (budgets are still tightly controlled, but not nearly as stringently as they had been two years ago). Sure enough, in 2006, the number of CIOs reporting to CFOs declined, to 17%. And I'm happy to report that in this year's study, the figure fell further, to 13%. During that same period, the number of CIOs reporting to CEOs rose from 58% to 63%. There were 575 IT professionals surveyed for this year's study, and company sizes were equally represented among businesses with less than 100 employees; 100 to 999 employees; 1,000 to 4,999; and more than 5,000.

Stop back to CIO Nation for more data points from the study throughout the next few days, including the job titles and responsibilities that the respondents believe the CIO could morph into as their roles evolve.

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