CIOs - Find the Right Route to Influence or Risk Obscurity

By Pa Consulting Group, PRNE
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

LONDON, June 15, 2011 -

- PA Consulting Group and Harvey
Survey Over 2500 CIOs and

CIOs must get the balance right between utility and innovation
in order to secure influence in the future, according to new
research from PA Consulting Group and Harvey Nash. The 2011 survey
of over 2,500 CIOs and IT leaders reveals that CIOs are playing an
increasingly influential role within their organisations (50 per
cent 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. They 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. The top three issues
that management boards are asking CIOs to address are: saving costs
(67 per cent), increasing operational efficiencies (65 per cent)
and delivering consistent and stable IT performance to the business
(64 per cent). An excessive focus on utility activities can
undermine the pursuit of technology innovation.  

Focusing on either extreme of the utility-to-innovation
continuum is not an option for ambitious CIOs. Those that simply
focus on utility will run the risk of becoming the equivalent of
facilities managers as work is increasingly outsourced, almost half
(47 per cent) of UK CIOs are planning to increase their outsourcing
spend. 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 from industry
to industry

The balance between utility and innovation is different in every
industry. CIOs in city markets lead on innovation with 77 per cent
focused on innovation, with retail (75 per cent) and financial
services (71 per cent) close behind. At the other end of the
spectrum, less than half of CIOs in pharmaceuticals are focused on
innovation, and less than quarter in both construction and
engineering are innovation focused.  

Cloud remains contentious

In 2010, 51 per cent of CIOs were considering using cloud
computing. In 2011, there is still a mixed picture of use. Despite
the much cited benefits, 8 per cent of organisations that have
considered cloud have discounted it for their organisation and only
22 per cent of CIOs are exploiting cloud for core business
processes. CIOs are still resolving where cloud can and cannot add
value as part of their business model.

PA’s David Elton, IT and change management specialist, says:
“The challenge for CIOs is to find the right balance between
utility and innovation for their organisation, recognising that it
might be a moving target.

“There is constant change in the business environment and in
business appetite for risk. 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. But for
those that get this balance right, the prize is real influence in
the business, rather than simply being seen as facilities

Albert Ellis, Harvey Nash Chief Executive Officer, says:
“Driving innovation whilst continuing to provide core technology
utility services to the business will be increasingly demanded from
CIOs as we move out of recession. Securing the company’s data and
technology from cyberattacks, whilst at the same time exploiting
the growth of social media for business use will be the key
challenge facing CIOs in the coming decade. And yet we are
increasingly seeing these hybrid CIOs on our shortlists, many of
whom see the CIO role as a stepping stone to something much

Securing influence

An organisation’s position on the continuum is not fixed. To get
the balance right, CIOs need to:

  • foster a shared understanding between IT and the business of
    the issues the CIO should be prioritising. CIOs need to look ahead
    at the internal and external factors that will determine these
    issues and create a shared vision and understanding
  • consider the current and ideal position of their organisation
    on the utility-to-innovation continuum - CIOs should recognise
    that, before they can innovate successfully, they need to earn
    trust by getting the utility component of their activities
  • ensure their team can accomplish both utility and innovation
    activities concurrently and flexibly. These different types of
    activity require different approaches, skills and attitudes. For
    example, any kind of innovation requires an open culture of
    collaboration where the business is willing not only to take a risk
    but also to accept the possibility of failure.

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. Those that get the balance right will
ensure they - and their function - are on the path to increasing
influence in the business, rather than being simply facilities

The decision is theirs as to which route they take.

To request a copy of the PA Consulting Group and Harvey Nash
survey, visit href="">

Notes to the editor

About the survey

Thesurvey was conducted online by PA Consulting Group and Harvey
between 18 November 2010 and 4 April 2011 amongst 2,575 senior
level IT professionals from businesses across the world.  This
is the 13th in a series of annual CIO surveys conducted to identify
emerging trends and issues in IT leadership and has firmly
established itself as the industry benchmark over the years.

About PA Consulting Group

PA Consulting Group is a leading management and IT consulting
and technology firm. Independent and employee owned, we operate
globally in more than 30 countries and transform the performance of
major organisations in both the private and public sectors.

From initial idea generation and strategy development through to
detailed implementation, we deliver significant and tangible
results. We have outstanding technology development capability; a
unique breadth of skills from strategy to performance improvement,
from HR to IT; and strong expertise in communications, defence,
energy, financial services, government and public services,
healthcare, international development, manufacturing and water.

About Harvey Nash

Harvey Nash, a global professional recruitment consultancy and IT
outsourcing service provider, is committed to delivering the very
best talent and IT solutions to a broad base of international
clients. The Group is a trusted advisor to some of the world’s
leading business, governments and institutions. Operating from 39
offices covering the USA, Europe and Asia, its talented
professionals pursue the highest levels of integrity and quality in
providing a unique portfolio of services: executive search, interim
management, IT and finance recruitment and IT outsourcing.

Learn more, visit: href="">

For further information, please contact:

Laura Hamblin on +44-207-333-6191 or email href="">


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