Why More CIOs Delegate Tech Tasks to Underlings

A new survey of 1,271 CIOs working in 43 different countries conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP makes it clear just how challenging it is to be a CIO. The Deloitte Consulting survey found that performance (48%), followed closely by cost, customers and innovation (each tied at 45 percent), are at the top of the CIO agenda. But when asked how much of their IT budget gets applied to business innovation, the percentage on average is a paltry 16 percent.

Based on that disparity, it might be easy to conclude that many CIOs are worried about the lack of resources available to bring about digital innovation inside their organizations. But Khalid Kark, U.S. CIO research director for Deloitte Services LP, said the majority of the CIOs surveyed by Deloitte are actually optimistic about their ability to drive business innovation inside their organizations.

Kark also noted that CIOs are getting much more comfortable leveraging IT resources inside and out of the organization to achieve a strategic business goal. In fact, Kark says many more CIOs these days are more focused on the business outcome today than the actual technology used to achieve it.

At the same time, however, 91 percent of CIOs surveyed by Deloitte Consulting admit they have don’t have all the requisite skills to be a successful technology leader. In fact, Kark said it’s now more common for CIOs to delegate management of the IT infrastructure environment to a second-in-command in order to free them up to establish closer relationships with the rest of the business. In that capacity, the CIO essentially becomes an ambassador to the rest of business that explains what the internal IT organization can and—just as importantly—can’t do for the organization. The challenge they face is that CIOs tend to have much better relationships with CFOs and CEOs than they do with other line-of-business executives within their organization. As such, many of those lines of business units have a tendency to launch IT initiatives without consulting with IT until managing that project starts to spin out of control.

CIOs are obviously being tasked to reduce costs to help fund many new initiatives. But rather than dropping all those savings right to the bottom line of the organization, a fair amount of those savings are being shifted toward strategic business initiatives. It’s clear now more than ever that the rate at which that process is occurring needs to be greatly accelerated.

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