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CIO Event Leeds - 5 key things we learnt

On 23rd October, at Aspire in Leeds, over 80 CIOs, IT leaders and technology executives attended the Harvey Nash CIO Survey launch event to discuss and debate the future of technology, CMO / CIO relationships, Shadow IT, careers and much more besides. Panel members were:

Lucy Donaldson, Head of Digital Commerce, TD Direct Investing
Dave Clark, Group Director, Northern Gas Networks 
Charlotte Sweeney, Non Exec Director, Diversity Specialist
Simon Moate, CEO, Office to Office 
Carol Thompson, CFO, SSP

5 things we learnt:

1. The tech skills challenge is not about tech skills. There was much discussion, both on the panel and on our Tweet Wall which sat behind them, about how the real dearth of talent in the industry isn't in technical skills, but in leadership, people and creative skills. One panellist described in vivid detail how depressing it was to review CV after CV of people who all looked the same. Is the industry too obsessed with looking for tech skills, rather than the person behind the CV? Perhaps.

2. If it's a 'project' it's dead before it's even begun. Projects, programmes, transformations, 'initiatives', are all just examples of forced change. And forced change rarely works. One panellist went so far to say that they had never seen a project actually deliver what it promised. The panel concurred with the author Jim Collins in Good to Great: Incremental steps are the only root to lasting change.

3. Budgets are up, but for how long? The Harvey Nash CIO Survey reports that more CIOs are expecting budget increases this year than at any point since 2006. So all is good? Well feedback from the audience suggest that people are jittery about recent economic indicators, especially from Europe (the CIO Survey, conducted earlier in the year would not have captured this). However it was broadly felt the outlook remained positive.

4. Will CMOs inherit the earth? Well the survey suggests that there is an increasing trend for CMOs to own the digital agenda and  IT's involvement in digital has dropped from 56% last year to 50% this year. That said there is evidence from the Survey that this might be a temporary trend - an example is Shadow IT, where after an initial growth spurt in 2011-3, last year saw a decline. We called it the Boomerang Effect - technology is picked up by the business, but then when it becomes too complex or risky to operate it comes back to IT to manage / nurture.

5. Does money buy CIOs happiness? Er, Yes.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and continue to make Harvey Nash events such a great platform for debate and networking. If you would like to find out more about our technology recruitment, executive search and offshoring services visit us at www.harveynash.co.uk.