Businesses IT users now have a powerful voice in defining enterprise IT strategies and over half of CIOs believe themselves to be transformers and visionaries, according to research.
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A survey of 200 enterprise CIOs, carried out by CIO Connect, revealed 67% of CIOs believe IT users are now one of the most powerful drivers of change in enterprises.
The tech-savvy demographic known as Millennials, born in the eighties, are now a significant proportion of the workforce. These individuals have grown up with technology and represent an opportunity for enterprises to make best use of the latest technologies. However, they are also extremely demanding and if business wants to attract the best employees, it needs to offer the technology they want.
In its 'Future of Work' initiative, IT services firm Cognizant said the Millennial mindset will change how people communicate in work and with customers, and businesses will have to cater for this.
Enabling employees to buy their own computers for work is one such example of user-driven change, with traditional Windows-based desktops increasingly being replaced by mobile devices. Social media is another element of millennial behaviour, with workers in group communication, in real time, using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
CIOs need to provide an environment conducive to the use of these technologies, but must ensure their use doesn’t compromise the business. Ensuring the compatibility and security of these new technologies is for example essential.
Businesses expect CIOs to play a key role in changing a business through IT, according to the research. It found 57% of CIOs believe they are regarded as taking a lead in transformation at an organisation level. The same number of CIOs said they play an instrumental role in developing organisational vision.
The combination of a new generation of tech savvy workers and IT transforming business practices means the role of CIO is critical.
Nick Kirkland, CEO at CIO Connect, says companies introducing schemes to allow workers to use their own devices is a big change for CIOs. "There is pressure on CIOs for these schemes coming from two directions. There has always been demand from workers in the field, but since the iPad was introduced senior executives have taken an interest."
He said the wider senior management – and not just mobile and millennial workers – can see the value: "More organisations are now thinking, 'We do not need to own the hardware as long as we have virtual servers in place'."
He says social media is also high on the agenda for CIOs who are going through the process of creating best practices. For example, the HR department will play a role in ensuring employment contracts include provision for a social media usage policy. "Many people are used to sharing everything but a business cannot afford to do this."
The research also revealed one of the main drivers of IT strategy is gaining the ability to do less with more, with 98% of respondents saying this, while 92% of respondents believe how technology enables the use of information is a key factor in business success.
Kirkland said the role of the CIO is becoming increasingly business focused: “As we saw at our recent conference, long gone are the days when IT was a something confined to datacentres and helpdesks – it’s a core element in the success of every business and CIOs are playing an increasingly business-focussed role, helping to develop strategy and aligning IT decisions closely to business objectives.”