Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

Coast to Coast CIO Chatter: What I'm Hearing from IT Leaders

In the last two months, I have had the privilege and the challenge of traveling across the country to speak to CIOs nationwide. As part of the rollout of the Harvey Nash CIO Survey, we host local market CIO events and panels to discuss key issues in IT issues and leadership.

My job presenting findings to these IT heads is a privilege because I get to speak with leading minds in our industry, accomplished professionals who are every day leveraging technology to create business value and innovation. It's a challenge because there is so much to discuss when exploring the evolving demands facing today's IT departments and never enough time to discuss it all.

Take my recent visit to Chicago, Illinois, where SIM, KPMG and Harvey Nash hosted a forum on the issues raised in the CIO Survey. The panel of executive leaders was nothing short of impressive and included CIOs and Presidents of powerhouse companies from across the region. Every topic we broached (offshoring, outsourcing, budgets, business alignment) brought thoughtful answers and, like an Oscar acceptance speech, had to be wrapped up much too quickly.

In part to continue the many discussions I have been having with CIOs nationwide and also to share with other IT leaders some of the critical IT executive buzz in the marketplace, I have prepared this quick summary below of CIO lessons learned. These are the lessons I have learned in just a few short weeks talking to CIOs across the country and I hope you (be you an IT executive or new to the IT industry) find these insights educational and interesting as well.

What I Learned from CIOs This Past Month

Technology Is Driving (Not Supporting) Business. Of all the IT leaders I chatted with in the last few months, none see technology transforming into a commodity. In fact, today's CIOs believe that IT one of the essential keys to future business success. 'IT is not a support function but rather a business driver and enabler' is how I would characterize the overall perspective of IT leaders. That philosophy is what has IT leaders fiercely focused on the great challenge of integrating IT with the business.

Offshoring Is On Every Mind & Agenda. Offshoring is no longer seen as only a solution for giant enterprises looking to save costs. For most every senior IT leader I have spoken with in recent months, the question is not "if" offshoring is an option. The question is "when" do I begin offshoring? All businesses of all sizes are under pressure to reduce costs and increase services/capabilities in increasingly shrinking timeframes. Offshore is becoming an essential way to meet the demands of a global marketplace that is competing at an astoundingly quick tempo.

CIOs Are Hitting a Ceiling. When we discussed career paths and reporting structures at CIO events in both Chicago and Denver, it was mentioned that CFOs are much more likely to rise to the ranks of CEO than CIOs. CFOs get much more exposure to executive boards, which means getting to the top leadership positions in business is much, much harder when you come from the IT side of the business.

IT & Business Remain Divided. The CIO Survey found the IT and business integration is the utmost priority for CIOs. "No wonder!!" say so many of the CIOs I have met in recent weeks. So many told me that IT very much still sees itself as separate from the business organization and vice versa.

CIOs from across the country confirm the fact that their IT organizations tend to see themselves as operating outside of the business organization. It is taking enormous, concentrated efforts (training, changing hiring practices, etc.) to just begin to get staff members and business leaders to see IT as part of the business operation.

In the weeks ahead, as we conduct more CIO Forums and events, I will share more of what I am learning from today's IT leaders.