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2/8/2007
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CEOs Don't Expect Much From IT Or CIOs, Says Report

Most CEOs say they don't expect their CIOs to be proactive about process improvement, business innovation, or effectively managing IT assets, according to a Forrester Research survey.

Most CEOs are happy with their CIOs, but that's because they don't expect much from them, according to a new study by Forrester Research.

Nearly six-in-ten CEOs say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the performance of their companies' IT, yet most admit they don't expect their CIOs to be proactive about process improvement, business innovation, or effectively managing IT assets, according to the survey, which polled 71 CEOs at firms with more than $100 million in revenue.

"CEOs are satisfied with IT because they don't expect much," says Laurie Orlov, Forrester analyst who authored the report. "CEOs expect less and CIO take less risks," she says. "There's a gap between CEOs and CIOs -- there needs to be a boost in expectations and IT needs to be more proactive to raise these expectations," she says.

In fact, most CIOs themselves admit that they play it safe, according to a recent InformationWeek Research study. The survey of 150 CIOs and tech VPs found that 75% describe their company's IT cultures as moderate or conservative in their IT strategies and investments.

Over the last six years, CEOs have "dialed back their expectations and CIOs have become more risk averse," says Orlov. Much of that is the hangover from tech disappointments in the late 1990s, including the dot-com bust, disappointing ERP deployments, and overblown Y2K spending, she says.

"CIOs have hunkered down," she says. "If you're a CIO at a company with lower expectations of IT, you may prefer to be risk averse because you're paid the same salary and can sleep at night," she says.

But over the last several years, many technologies -- from collaborative tools to RFID -- "are offering the capability to radically change and improve the way companies do business," says Orlov.

To shake up the status quo, CEOs need to educate themselves about IT and realize the more significant role that the CIO and IT organization can play in making their companies more efficient and innovative, she says. And CIOs need to "get out there and step up," she says.

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