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"If cost, efficiency and stability become a CIO's sole focus, and work is increasingly outsourced, then the future for those CIOs is as facilities managers. In PA's view, keeping the lights on and reducing costs are only half the role."


Shaping up: how CIOs can ensure they are fit for the future

CIOs must get the balance right between utility and innovation in order to enable their organisation to be Fit For the Future, and secure influence, according to the new PA Consulting Group / Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2011.

The 2011 survey of over 2,500 CIOs and IT leaders reveals that CIOs are playing an increasingly influential role within their organisations (50% now sit on the operational board or management team). However, the main demands on them remain cost saving, increasing operational efficiencies and delivering consistent and stable IT performance to the business. In PA's view, keeping the lights on and reducing costs are only half the role. CIOs need to consider the right balance between the utility and innovation components of IT.  

Balancing risk and opportunity

Striking the right balance is a challenge. Focusing on either extreme of the utility-to-innovation continuum is not an option for ambitious CIOs. Those that simply focus on utility run the risk of becoming the equivalent of facilities managers as work is increasingly outsourced, (almost half of CIOs are planning to increase their outsourcing spend in the next 12 months). Meanwhile, those pursuing a strategy of innovation must remember the importance of keeping the lights on - it is all very well to offer the business the latest social networking app, but if core business operations are hampered by IT failure, the CIO’s career may be over.

How the balance changes for each organisation and CIO

The balance between utility and innovation is different in every industry and for each organisation. Ultimately, an organisation’s position on the continuum will reflect a series of movements as CIOs react and adapt to the forces shaping their environment. For example, the survey reveals that outsourcing is increasing, cyber security is a growing concern and cloud is a potential game changer (albeit with a lot of firms in wait and see mode). All of these trends are creating an opportunity for CIOs to innovate and collaborate, but it also means CIOs constantly have to adjust the utility and innovation balance in their organisations.  For those that get this balance right, the prize is real influence in the business.

PA has helped clients get the balance between innovation and utility right. For example, we reduced IT cost and improved transparency for a leading Dutch retail bank, while working with JCDecaux, we delivered the UK's first real-time advertising verification system.

To request a copy of the survey report or find out how PA can help develop a roadmap to help your business and its IT leaders, contact us now.

Tom McEwan
IT consulting
contact us now