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Study uncovers CIOs’ “new role”

The evolution of information technologies has given a new role to companies’ IT managers. The new CIOs have an increasing relevance in organizations and are just as (or more) concerned with knowing the company’s business, as with IT management.

The results are from the study “The New Voice of the CIO”, released today by IBM. The analysis carried out by its Institute for Business Value focused on surveys carried out on 2,500 people responsible for the Information Technology (IT) area of ​​companies, most of them with one thousand or more employees. 78 countries were considered, including Portugal, which participates with responses from 13 CIOs.

The study divides companies between those that have a high growth rate and those that have a low degree of growth or have stagnated, taking into account the financial indicators and the relevance in the respective sector.

The main conclusion to draw is the coincidence between the most “visionary” profile – concerned with knowing deeply the business sector in which the company operates and taking part in decisions and strategies – of the CIOs of the companies that show the greatest growth, and the greatest focus on “IT management” by the CIOs of the companies with the lowest growth.

Despite this correspondence, it is not clear that the company’s biggest growth is necessarily related to the CIO’s vision, because, as was mentioned by Henrique Arnaud Farinha, Director of Global Business Services at IBM Portugal – who led the presentation of the analysis – the Observed data can take several readings.

It is assumed that in the fastest growing companies, this may be due to more “visionary” CIOs, who “recognize that successful innovation requires deep involvement with the business”. But it is also possible that the biggest growth of these companies will create the conditions to hire employees with these characteristics, or give them greater leeway.

In companies with greater development, it is also necessary to consider that the budget dedicated to IT may be larger, which leaves the CIO more room for maneuver and often allows him a “second line” of assistants who are dedicated to IT management, leaving greater freedom to think about the strategy to fit this component in the overall structure of the company and in the business.

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Another of the observed realities is the general concern with cost optimization, which was unanimously mentioned. It is true that the analysis focused on a period of “economic crisis”, with the last inquiries being received in March this year, but those responsible for presenting the study believe that this would always be a factor with a predominant role.

One of the graphs presented by the study reveals that IT managers spend about 14 percent of their time planning cost reductions in the technological area and that this concern is constant, with moments dedicated to this type of planning being identified. days of the week. “The balance between new projects and cost control is the dichotomy of my life”, says one of the interviewees mentioned.

Analysts identified what they called the “three pairs of roles” for CIOs, whom they named as essential to their good performance and their ability to achieve what companies expect from them. CIOs need to balance the expectation that they are “visionaries” with the need to be “pragmatic”; the ability to “create value” with that of “controlling and reducing costs” and also the ability to produce consensus, to integrate “IT management” and to be “collaborative in the organization”, to allow business expansion.

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Among the “ten elements considered most important and visionary” by the interviewees are Business Intelligence and Analysis (80% in low growth companies and 86% in companies with strong growth), followed by Virtualization (76% and 77%) and Risk Management and Compliance (70% to 73%).

It is also interesting to note that when those responsible were asked to indicate the factors they consider most important in their action, the disparity in responses is almost zero. The biggest divergences were registered with regard to SOA / Web services – which, interestingly, only come in 9th place on the list – which collected 68 percent of responses from companies in high growth and only 55 percent among companies with lower growth.

The analysis evaluated surveys sent to CIOs from companies operating in the Public (18%), Communications (11%), Financial Services (21%), Industrial (24%), Distribution (24%) and other (2%) sectors, operating in Western Europe (38%), North America (24%), Japan (6%) and Emerging Markets (32%). Only 16 percent of the companies considered have fewer than 1,000 employees, 50 percent have between 1,000 and 10,000 employees and 34 percent add more than 10,000.

In Portugal, 13 companies from all sectors represented in the study were consulted responsible for the new technologies area.