Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

Getting Down Under with the CIO Point of View

For the past 16 years, we've been capturing the CIO point of view through our annual CIO survey. Reflecting the opinions of more than 3,200 IT leaders around the world, I think this year's survey may actually be the biggest IT leadership survey EVER conducted.

To share the viewpoint of CIOs in Australia, we recently hosted an event in Sydney where Harvey Nash Group CEO Albert Ellis led a discussion with business leaders who included:

• David Hackshall, CIO, Wesfarmers
• Theresa Eyssens, CEO, Datacom Systems Australia
• Lee Bustin, CIO, GroupM
• Kate Carruthers, Manager Data Governance and Business Intelligence, UNSW

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This is the first year the Australian outlook matched the global perspective. Usually Australia leads the pack, since geographically it's forced to explore issues, such as talent shortages and outsourcing, as somewhat of a trailblazer. This promotes creativity and innovative ideas that are adopted quickly and efficiently. So what do this year's results mean? Is the world finally catching up or are the issues being magnified globally? While there are not significantly divergent views in the outlook of Australian CIOs in comparison to our global findings, there are some subtle differences, so I set the baseline for that discussion by highlighting Aussie survey results.

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How Important is the CIO?
One of the issues we looked at this year was the changing importance of the CIO role. In the words of Tim Thurman, CIO, ASX, Australia: "CIOs are definitely more important. No longer just technical by nature, they must have more business knowledge than the traditional CIO. Today, the CIO contributes to the overall performance of the organization by driving revenue, profitability and customer satisfaction." Our data proves Tim's point:

• 69% of respondents see the role of the CIO becoming more strategic.
• 44% of CIOs report to the CEO or managing director.
• 62% are members of executive management.
• 39% of CIOs in Australia keep the keys to the IT vault in their own pockets, although they are seeing greater out-of-IT-scope spend.

Innovation Gap Continues
Last year, we reported that 78% of CIOs in Australia saw great innovation potential for their company, but only 1% felt innovation had been fully achieved. This year, the picture has not shifted significantly.

• 77% feel there is great potential for technology-led innovation, although no one feels innovation had been fully achieved.
• 76% believe too little time is invested in innovation.

How well IT helps the business innovate is the second most important measure of performance in the eyes of the CEO and Board, exceeded only by successful delivery of IT projects, yet 64% say their organization has only partially achieved its technology innovation potential.

What's a Priority?
There has been a major shift in the operational priorities of Australian CIOs.

• 70% prioritized the improvement of business processes last year, but only 60% are giving this a similar focus in 2014.
• Last year, cost savings were a top priority, with almost two-thirds of Australian CIOs focused on cost reduction; in 2014, just over half (54%) are.
• 48% point to revenue growth as a priority this year, with 72% noting that their CEOs prefer IT projects that make money over those that save.
• Only a third of Australian CIOs were engaged with customers last year, but this has leapt 16 percentage points (to 48%) in 2014.


Getting the Work Done
The global IT skills shortage is no less impactful in Australia than in other regions.
• 50% of CIOs in Australia believe a skills shortage will have an impact on their ability to keep pace with change. The flipside is that at least half expect to be held back by a skills shortage.
• 37% plan to increase IT headcount, while the vast majority (86%) are concerned about retaining the talent they have.
• 54% expect to increase outsourcing.
• 70% of Australian CIOs (94% of whom are men) believe women are under-represented in IT.

Project Success
When we look at the projects tech leaders are delivering, across the board, the greatest success lies in infrastructure rollouts. Cloud, websites and even new mobile apps also ranked high in terms of success rates. Where the positive results started to fade came with new digital marketing systems and big data implementations.

I want to thank our panelists and our event participants. We had an outstanding discussion and it was great having the opportunity to speak live with so many of the IT leaders whose opinions form the basis for our global research. To learn more about results from CIOs in Australia, including IT's relationships with other functions, the state of digital and talent retention strategies, you can download the complete global report here.

If you'd like to share your thoughts about the state of IT in Australia (or anywhere really) as we move into 2015, we'd love to hear from you!