CIOs should spend less time managing internal IT and more time looking at what is happening outside their organisation, according to Gartner.
In a global survey of CIOs, Gartner found that IT leaders are continuing to run the IT department, but are not focused on the outside world.
“CIOs recognise mobile, social and big data as disruptive technology trends, but only a minority are doing something about them. There is still pressure from the business on budget and compliance,” said Dave Aron, vice-president and Gartner fellow.
He urged CIOs to move from "tending the IT garden" to "hunting and harvesting digital opportunities”.
The Gartner survey found that increasing enterprise growth was the top priority for CIOs, followed by delivering operational results and reducing enterprise costs.
"As CIOs continue to amplify the organisation with digital technologies, while improving IT organisational structure, management and governance, 2013 promises to be a year of dual priorities," said Aron.
"Key CIO strategies identified in the survey reflect the realities of these dual business priorities and confirm the need to expand IT's ability to hunt for new opportunities and harvest current business value.”
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CIOs need to innovate while maintaining existing projects and IT. Aron urged CIOs to rationalise the IT projects they focus on.
“Undo, redo and don’t do everything,” he added. “In EMEA there is very little space for significant new investment. You cannot do more and more.”
Aron said that one of the worrying statistics from the study was that CIO priorities were more or less consistent globally, despite the difference in world economies, and they were not adapting to what was happening in their local economies.
Gartner found the priorities of the 147 UK CIOs surveyed were not much different to the global context. “This is worrying, as every economy is different,” he said.
The survey also found most IT budgets increased only slightly or were in decline, apart from the transportation and wholesale sectors, both of which saw inflation-busting 8% increases.
Global IT budget by sector
Another finding of the Gartner survey was that successful CIOs generally invest in development and training.
Among the CIOs Gartner surveyed, the biggest differentiator between a successful CIO and an unsuccessful one was how much they invested in talent management, said Aron.
“Only one quarter of CIOs believe they have the right people and can hire the right people, both in-house and through outsourcing,” he said.