For Most CIOs, ‘Life Is Good’

By Jack Rosenberger

“It’s a good time to be a CIO” is one conclusion to be drawn from the just-released 2013 Society for Information Management (SIM) IT Trends Survey, which reports that most organizations are increasing IT budgets, headcounts and salaries. The 34th annual survey of SIM IT professionals also finds that the average tenure of CIOs continues to trend upward, reaching a near-high average of 5.2 years. And both senior IT leaders and organizations are in agreement when it comes to their respective top management issue: the alignment of IT with business.

The 34th Annual SIM IT Trends Survey is based on responses from nearly 600 senior IT leaders, whose organizations average $4.36 billion in revenue and employ 8,629 employees. Forty-nine percent of the respondents are from financial services (the largest, with 14 percent), health-care, manufacturing, education and government. Overall, the survey’s bottom-line trends results were positive for IT professionals and departments and, as the report’s authors opined when they presented the survey results at SIM‘s annual conference, “IT appears fairly resilient and is generally seen as ‘part of the solution’ during these still challenging times.”

Among the good news is that 61 percent of respondents reported their IT budget had increased, while 12 percent had no change and 27 percent experienced a budget decrease. In terms of staffing, 47 percent reported staff increases, 25 percent reported no change and 28 percent reported a decrease. In terms of salaries, 89 percent said their IT salaries had increased, 7 percent had no change and only 4 percent reported a decrease. The average salary increase was 2.24 percent, which is expected to rise to 2.45 percent next year.

The Top Three Surprises

“The most unexpected result is the divergence in the top five issues,” says Leon Kappelman, lead researcher and professor of information systems at the University of North Texas, referring to the finding that only five of senior IT professionals’ most important concerns also appear in the top 10 of their organizations’ most important concerns.

“Alignment of IT with Business” is the only item to appear in both CIOs’ and organizations’ top five lists, appearing as the number one item for both CIOs and organizations. After that auspicious start, however, both CIOs’ and organizations’ lists of the most important five issues head off into different directions.  

Security is CIOs’ second leading concern, but it ranks seventh for organizations, and CIOs’ third concern, a shortage of talent and skills, descents to 16 th as an issue for organizations. Likewise, CIOs’ fourth and fifth concerns, business continuity and prioritization process for IT projects, are 14th and 11th, respectively, for organizations.

Two other surprising survey results involve IT spending and CIOs’ attitudes toward privacy, says Kappelman. In terms of IT spending, one possible emerging trend is “that more of the IT budget is going to things instead of people,” says Kappelman. “This would be a reversal of the longstanding opposite trend, in which people cost has exceeded hardware.”

Privacy is a low priority among CIOs, the survey revealed. The 2013 poll was the first to “separate privacy and security into separate questions on the key management issues, and privacy dropped to the bottom of this list,” says Kappelman. “This was very surprising to me, so much so that I went back and retested the online questionnaire to make sure it had worked right.” 

Looking Ahead to 2014

When asked what CIOs should be more concerned about in 2014, Kappelman gave a one-word reply: “Everything!”

“Despite more than 40 years in technology, and nearly 30 studying IT, I have a new appreciation for how complicated IT management is,” he says. “But if there’s one thing in particular CIOs should be concerned about, it is the importance of IT performance measures and their likely relationship to IT management’s incentives.

“The most widely-used IT performance measures are, by far, all IT operational, with some organizations using business operational ones and very few organizations using strategic ones. We know you get what you measure and people do what they are paid to do, so if alignment of IT to business is truly important to IT leaders and their organizations, then it appears that our performance measures are not promoting and supporting such an alignment as much as they could be.” 

About the Author

Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. You can read his previous CIO Insight article, “Top Networking Trends of 2013: The Good, The Bad,” by clicking here.

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