Chief information officers are having to spend time justifying the role of information technology at the expense of more productive work, a new survey claims.
“Some business people still find it hard to trust IT as an effective business driver,” says Paul Cook, director of management consulting for Ernst & Young, which underwrote the survey.
“This is partially why CIOs are constantly having to prove themselves in their jobs and promote the merits of IT.”
Survey author Phil Brimacombe says the common theme, in terms of activities performed, was having to build relationships with the CEO and senior executives.
“For CIOs to spend most of their time on relationship building and being open and honest, implied that there may be issues with how business leaders perceive the role and actions of the IT leader.”
“The renowned unease with which CEOs are reported to regard IT may well be such an issue in New Zealand organisations that IT leaders have to give top priority to establishing their credibility with IT users and with top management.”
The survey found that CIOs would like to spend most of their time delivering IT developments on schedule but building relationships with CEO and senior executives is still a top priority.
“This suggests that CIOs want to get on with the job of implementing IT projects, but it is still most important to maintain senior executive involvement in and commitment to these developments. Establishing credibility is a key issue for many CIOs; several commented that delivery determines credibility, and credibility is a prerequisite for other activities,” says Brimacombe.
Survey respondents said they would like to perform almost all of their activities more than they currently do.
“CIOs commented that part of the reason was lack of time and resource, but many also commented that lack of CEO and executive interest in and knowledge of IT prevented them from doing more. Company structure and culture were also cited as constraints.”
CIOs ranked the development and maintenance of a technology infrastructure as the most important area for effective IT strategic management, with active participation in strategic business planning and promotion of IT as a driver of business strategy as a close second. “One CIO commented that it was hard to choose between these two areas because while participation in strategy is most important, providing infrastructure to prove the benefit of IT is necessary first in order to gain the trust from senior management required for the CIO to be included in strategic planning.”
The findings of the New Zealand survey are supported by a recent survey of United States IS executives conducted by Ernst & Young and CIO magazine.
However, the US survey indicates a swing towards including information executives in strategic decision-making — a departure from previous surveys.
“For the first time in the survey’s history, the CIOs, their bosses and their peers are unified in their opinion in what the CIO’s function is, both for the year past and going forward: aligning IT and corporate goals,” the report says.
There were 80 responses to the survey, from members of the Ernst & Young CIO Forum, questionnairies to organisations on the MIS top 50 listing, and 257 questionnaires to Computer Society members.