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The IT Conversation We Should Be Having

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The IT Conversation We Should Be Having

It has been a while since I was a parent of teenagers, but I remember when the question, "Have you had the conversation yet?" made me break out in cold sweats.

The Conversation is also a 1974 film by Francis Ford Coppola whose themes include the role of technology in society and being so focused on what you are doing that you forget why you are doing it and become oblivious to what is happening around you. Both examples fit the conversation that should be going on in the C-suite, but isn't, because it makes people nervous, and because people lose visibility and perspective of what is changing around them as they focus on their goals. It is a conversation about the increasing importance of information technology and the role it must assume in every enterprise, regardless of size, industry or geography.

Over the last two years, we have been engaged in primary research with The Harvard Business Review, The Economist, CEB (formerly known as the Corporate Executive Board), Intel, and TNS Global in an attempt to paint a picture of how the role of the CIO and the IT department is changing. We also engaged with CIOs across the globe in discussions about what they were experiencing and what changes were surprising or bewildering them.

A simple summary of the work suggests that CEOs believe that CIOs are not in sync with the new issues CEOs are facing, CIOs do not understand where the business needs to go, and CIOs do not have a strategy, in terms of opportunities to be pursued or challenges to be addressed in support of the business.

Key findings from our research:

  • Almost half of CEOs feel IT should be a commodity service purchased as needed

  • Almost half of CEOs rate their CIOs negatively in terms of understanding the business and understanding how to apply IT in new ways to the business

  • 57% of the executives expect their IT function to change significantly over the next three years, and 12% predict a "complete overhaul" of IT

  • Only a quarter of executives felt their CIO was performing above his or her peers


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