British CIOs lose boards' confidence

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British CIOs lose boards' confidence

Antony Savvas

Chief information officers (CIOs) are losing the confidence of their boards and increasingly see themselves in the shadow of finance teams as compliance issues come to the fore.

A survey of 808 CIOs worldwide, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on behalf of business technology optimisation company Mercury Interactive, found that “embattled British CIOs are struggling to prove their value and regain lost trust from their companies' management boards”. 

The survey said many of the CIOs worldwide saw better IT governance as holding the key to regaining senior management's faith in IT.

In the UK, the results indicated that the sheer cost of sustaining existing IT systems on slimmer budgets is placing enormous pressure on CIOs to deliver on strategic IT goals such as compliance.

Yet most UK CIOs are spending less comparatively on governing IT than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, found the survey.

"British CIOs have their backs against the wall", said Roger Gilheany, Mercury UK IT governance business development director. 

"They are being forced to spend less on IT than other European CIOs. Managing the people, processes and priorities of their current and future IT is overwhelming them and rendering them helpless to deliver further business advantage, said Gilheany.

In the EIU survey 70% of UK CIOs believed that the best outcome of achieving legislative compliance would be more accurate financial reporting, which would help to increase profits through better governed IT. 

However, a follow-up study conducted by Mercury UK showed that just 26% of UK IT executives could afford to increase their IT governance spending in 2005, compared to a European average 43% increase. 

Only 6% UK CIOs were planning to spend less on IT governance in the future, but a worrying 54% said they were only able to spend the same amount on governing IT as they were currently doing.

Gilheany said, "IT governance has emerged as a critical new computing discipline. Companies need much greater visibility of their assets, the ability to control costs, resources and risks, and to align IT priorities with business objectives to maximise the value of IT investment. 

“At the moment, British CIOs feel both disconnected from the businesses they work for and have developed a lack of confidence, often having to work in the shadow of the finance function rather than reporting straight to the board," he said.

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