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The Creative CIO Thrives in Australia

This August saw the launch of the 2016 CIO Survey in Sydney and Harvey Nash Australia, along with our survey partner KPMG, was proud to host our annual kickoff event to share its many findings. Titled "The Creative CIO," the survey has revealed how a growing amount of agility and imagination are required to be an effective IT leader in the age of digital transformation.

A testament to the importance of creative drive (something the Australian marketplace seems to foster according to the survey), our launch event was headlined by a panel of imaginative, successful CIOs and IT visionaries who included:

  • Kelly Ferguson, CIO Energy Markets at Origin Energy
  • Simon Farrell, CTO for Red Balloon
  • Tim Catley, Group CIO at Transport for NSW
  • Guy Holland, Partner in charge of the Digital Consulting, Technology Strategy and Performance Practice for KPMG
  • Moderator: Albert Ellis, CEO for Harvey Nash

Sydney - main image medium.jpg

What Does Creative CIO Mean?
CIOs have long had to be many things to ensure a business success: technical, strategic, efficient, practical and innovative. Creative, however, is not one of the first adjectives we used in the past to describe CIOs in a decade of conducting this global survey of technology leaders. This year "creative" is the word we are using to talk about CIOs, and that's because many factors are changing in terms of CIO work and how it gets done. At the CIO Survey launch event, we explored how and why creativity is playing such an important role today and how Australia's CIOs seem to have a creativity advantage.

First, there's the money.
Very tight budgets and hiring freezes have long been the story of IT since the Great Recession. However, the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey has seen IT budgets and hiring rise in recent years. This year 45% of CIOs say they expect to see a budget increase in 2016. Compare that to just 25% in 2009 or 28% in 2010 of CIOs predicting budget increases in the years just after the recession. With nearly half of CIOs predicting a budget increase, it's clear that budget pressures are lifting for many CIOs.

Stronger budgets are allowing CIOs to expand technology spending just as the digital marketplace has cracked wide open with social, mobile, big data and cloud technologies that have the potential to transform how businesses work. With new tools and more funding, CIOs once again have an opportunity to be creative after many years of nonstop focus on cost-cutting and operational efficiency.

Secondly, There's the Aussie Spirit of Entrepreneurialism.
In Australia, CIOs were most likely to put innovative new product and service development as their number one priority according to the CIO Survey. Where else did that happen in the world? Nowhere. In other regions like the UK and United States, increasing operation efficiencies and improving business processes were the top priorities. Both the panel and the audience were not terribly surprised that Australian CIOs were leading development efforts. Australia, as a smaller and more remote country, embraces invention and ingenuity to compete in the global marketplace. For the same reason, Australian CIOs are more willing to embrace outsourcing. According to the survey, Australian CIOs anticipate a 55% to their outsourcing spend, compared to only 50% globally. The pioneering spirit of Australians is echoed even across the digital landscape with 41% of CIOs in Australia having a digital strategy in place compared to just 35% worldwide.

Increasing Project Success (and other Challenges) Will Take Creativity.
With the CIO Survey revealing that IT projects are becoming less and less successful each year, it's going to take creative approaches to rework how IT delivers solutions and innovation. If project success continues to slip, the Creative CIO is going to need to take a very different approach. The same goes for all four of the critical issues keeping CIOs up late at night:

#1 Cyber Security
#2 Skills Shortage
#3 Project Success
#4 Being Agile, Being Digital

To tackle security, skills, project success and the digital marketplace, CIOs need to look beyond traditional IT skills and domains to approach projects with greater business understanding. Take the way encryption is being addressed with creativity by Apple and Google in this insightful blog by Chai Lim who attended the survey launch panel and is Implementation Manager for Digital Publishing at Pacific Magazines. As Lim demonstrates, businesses (even global powerhouses) are embracing creative technology tools and thinking to stake out new competitive ground in Artificial Intelligence and encryption. Creativity is a daily pursuit for these groundbreaking technology corporations and CIOs around the world must follow suit.

Thank you Australia
Each year we learn so much from CIOs around the world and the 2016 Sydney panel and audience are keeping that momentum strong. We want to thank each CIO who participated in the survey, in the launch, in the panel and in the audience for their time and insights. We also encourage those we are eager to learn more about the ways and opportunities of the Creative CIO to review the full CIO survey and check out the videos and photos of this year's kickoff event. Is your technology strategy, vision and leadership creative enough for the digital marketplace? Is your path similar? Now's the time to find out.

Anna Frazzetto
Chief Digital Technology Officer
Harvey Nash plc

Bridget Gray
Managing Director
Harvey Nash plc