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Down To Business: How Indian CIOs Stack Up

IBM thinks they're more progressive than CIOs elsewhere in the world, given their emphasis on innovation, customers, and other strategic matters.

OAre CIOs in India "more progressive" than their counterparts in the rest of the world? IBM thinks so, and it makes its case based on its exhaustive survey of 2,598 CIOs in 70 countries.

My colleague Bob Evans reported in September on that survey, which revealed big gaps between the attitudes and approaches of CIOs in "high-growth" companies (as determined by profit before taxes) and those in lower-growth companies. IBM recently took another cut of that survey to reveal just as profound differences between how CIOs in India think and operate compared with CIOs the world over. Here's a sampling of what IBM found, courtesy of Shanker Annaswamy, managing director of IBM India.

>> 64% of Indian CIOs say they're pushing IT as an innovation element, compared with 55% of CIOs globally. 70% of Indian CIOs are integrating business and technology to promote innovation for their entire companies, compared with 47% of CIOs globally.

>> 44% of Indian CIOs say they create IT centers of excellence to help their companies realize business and technology innovation, compared with 35% of CIOs globally.

>> More than 70% of Indian CIOs say they plan to foster greater levels of integration and transparency with end customers in the next five years; 60% of CIOs globally.

>> 56% of Indian CIOs say they set business strategy as a member of the senior management team, compared with only 33% of CIOs globally. 40% of Indian CIOs surveyed report directly to the CEO; 31% globally.

These findings are consistent with the anecdotal feedback InformationWeek received last year in roundtable discussions with about 30 Indian CIOs in Mumbai and New Delhi. Most of the CIOs we engaged there said they report to a CEO or owner, and while most said they don't directly influence major decisions at their companies, such as acquisitions, they're consulted regularly.

Also high on those Indian CIOs' agendas: contributing to company innovation and growth and championing disruptive technologies and processes--responsibilities ranked near the bottom of the priority list in an InformationWeek survey of U.S. CIOs earlier that year. The most striking difference was how much Indian CIOs build a global perspective into everything they do, from sourcing to product development to customer service.

Does that make Indian CIOs "more progressive"? The fact that Indian companies are growing faster than companies in developed countries and must deal with fewer legacy systems issues works in their favor. And any analysis which stipulates that executives in one country are one way while execs in another are another way is sure to be laden with stereotypes.

But India provides a fascinating case study of business technology strategy in its raw, ambitious early days. U.S. companies would do well to examine how the CIOs in this emerging economic power are taking on the world.

Rob Preston,
VP and Editor in Chief

To find out more about Rob Preston, please visit his page.

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