Harvey Nash/KPMG: CIOs See Role Becoming ?More Strategic?

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In its 19th annual survey, Harvey Nash/KPMG found CIOs preoccupied with making companies more digital, and expected to fill more strategic role.

A survey conducted for 19 consecutive years concludes that in 2017 CIOs believe that their role has become more strategic and they will be “very fulfilled” in their roles.

Thirty-nine percent of responding CIOs, up from 33% in 2015, came up with that “fulfilled” answer in the latest Harvey Nash/KPMG survey of 4,498 IT professionals. Thirty-nine percent represents a three-year high for the statistic on CIO satisfaction. The 50-plus page report on the survey was released today.

Harvey Nash is an IT talent recruitment firm and it has been conducting the survey for 19 years with KPMG as the co-sponsor. The information for the latest survey was gathered between Dec. 19 and April 3. The survey is billed by its sponsors as “the largest IT leadership” sounding board in the world and the only one conducted over such a nearly two-decade period. IT representatives in 86 countries participated.

Last year, the highlight of the survey was a perceived, developing skills shortage, said Bob Miano, CEO of Harvey Nash USA/Pacific, in a blog a year ago as the 2016 results came out. Sixty-six percent complained they couldn’t find the skills they needed, compared to 56% the year before.

This year’s sense of CIO fulfillment appears to mesh with a sense of how companies are transitioning into a more digital economy. By chance, 39% of the respondents also said their companies had established a position of chief digital officer by this year’s survey.

But you don’t need a chief digital officer to be undertaking the transition. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said their companies had a digital strategy in place, and the same percentage said their firms were ramping up their investment in “more nimble technology platforms.” An even higher 89% said they were either maintaining or increasing their investment in the innovation side of the IT budget.

GE has gone through its own transformation and written up a playbook. To learn more, see GE Draws Up Playbook For Digital Transformation.

Digital strategies can include such things as investing in more interactive web sites and offering API-driven mobile device applications, as well as using more analytics on visitor and customer data to discern most likely product and service buyers.

But the number of CIOs experiencing a sense of fulfillment doesn’t mean there isn’t still a long ways to go to become an organization in the emerging digital economy. Less than one in five, or 18%, said they had “a very effective” digital strategy in place. Those that do were more likely to claim they were leading innovation across the business, 41%, compared to 23% at organizations that don’t have that strategy in place.

A leading digital strategy technology is cognitive automation, based on cognitive computing, where key information from sensors is collected and built into total system operation. A factory floor management system might have previously checked to make sure all its machine components were running. A cognitive system not only knows that they are running but what temperature equipment is running at, how much vibration they are experiencing and when the last time was that a system was serviced. The cognitive information is tallied to make a prediction only how reliably the factory machines are likely to continue to run.

The companies with digital strategies in place were nearly four times as likely to be investing in cognitive automation as their counterparts, 25% to 7%.

“Digital is without question the CIO’s priority. Especially for legacy organizations, leading this change to a complete unified digital strategy is top of mind,” said CEO Miano in the announcement of the survey report.

“The CIO is now faced with a full transformation to digital, enterprise-wide… CIOs and CDOs are responding by tackling this head-on with innovation and agility,” he added.

Denis Berry, KPMG principal and its U.S. CIO advisory leader, added, CIOs “have needed to become more strategic and functionally integrated… in order to stay ahead of the unprecedented levels of disruption and change.”

In addition to the “fulfilled” statistic, the survey found that 92% of CIOs had been asked to join a board of directors meeting over the last 12 months. Seven in 10 CIOs said the role was becoming more strategic as worries over and plans for becoming a digital company rise to the fore.