Bob Miano's Blog

An Executive journal

Adaptation and Digital Innovation: CIOs Lead the Way Forward

Change is nothing new in technology. In fact, we who work in technology like to think of ourselves as the harbingers of change and drivers of invention. Sometimes we are. And, sometimes we are reacting to uncertainty, be it economic, social or scientific. Will 2017 be a year of driving change or responding to it for the world's IT leaders?

I have studied our 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, and my conclusion is that this year will be a year of widespread adaptation. Disrupting forces and uncertainty are plentiful across the current global economy, but CIOs have a plan for adapting to it. Here is some of what they have in store.

Build More Nimble, Digital Organizations
The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey did reveal that unpredictability is the consistent state of affairs for IT leaders worldwide. The majority of survey respondents, 64%, agree that the political, business and economic environment is becoming more unpredictable. How are they responding? Most (52%) say they are and will be working to build a more nimble technology platform in order to best adapt to unpredictability in the marketplace. Right now that nimbleness is being found in the cloud and in automation. CIOs are making big cloud investments across all three delivery models (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) and looking into process automation, from automating manual processes like data entry to more advanced cognitive automation.

Dedicate More Time for Digital Innovation & Partnership
Businesses around the world are looking to become more competitive through digital innovation. This year, our survey found that 41% of organizations now have an enterprise-wide digital strategy, which is up 52% since we began measuring in 2015. Another digital trend of note is that 25% of organizations now employ a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). That number was just 7% in 2014 when we first asked the question. To push their digital innovation capabilities even further, most CIOs (54%) plan to dedicate even "more time for digital innovation" underscoring how much digital is driving both tech and business strategy. Digital innovation is also pursued via partnerships with 52% of CIOs telling us they partner with innovative organizations, such as academic institutions, to boost their digital advantages.

Stabilize IT Performance
Last year management was asking IT leaders to make improving customer engagement a top priority. This year the top priority has returned to "delivering consistent and stable IT performance to the business." This shift to stability underscores the dual and very difficult challenge facing CIOs today. Businesses need digital innovation, automation and cloud ingenuity to stay competitive. However, they also need the IT environment to be consistent, stable and deliver rock-solid IT performance. How do you push for innovation and advancement with the caution and care necessary to maintain tech stability? It's the hardest needle today's IT leaders have to thread: innovate with both great ambition and great caution. Despite the challenge, I am happy to report that CIOs the world over are a highly satisfied group who love their jobs and the fact that their roles are becoming increasingly strategic.

Find Talent in Unexpected Places
The battle for tech talent continues with 6 in 10 of IT leaders reporting that they are dealing with a skill shortage. While big/data analytics is the most in-demand skill right now, enterprise architects--the experts who deliver complex digital strategies--saw the fastest-growing demand for their skills this year. Tech skill shortages and hard-to-fill positions mean that CIOs are going to have to look for the skilled pros they need in unexpected places. The right technologists will not be pounding on the door so creative and fast recruiting will be essential to keeping the IT team skilled and capable.

How else will CIOs be adapting in this world of unpredictability? With 4,500 respondents this year, the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey offers quite a bit of insight. You can download the entire report here and get a comprehensive look at how today's IT leaders are balancing tough challenges with the opportunities.