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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
6/23/2008
05:43 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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The Aggressive IT Department

Is it important for IT departments to be perceived as aggressive? Because they aren't. In our recent "Tomorrow's CIO" research survey of 720 corporate managers and CIOs and VP-of-IT level executives, only 6% of those on the corporate side describe their IT departments as more aggressive than the rest of the company. Is that bad, or business as usual?

Is it important for IT departments to be perceived as aggressive? Because they aren't. In our recent "Tomorrow's CIO" research survey of 720 corporate managers and CIOs and VP-of-IT level executives, only 6% of those on the corporate side describe their IT departments as more aggressive than the rest of the company. Is that bad, or business as usual?I guess the question really is, which comes first -- an aggressive IT department or an aggressive company? Business technology is an important element in driving innovation and finding new revenue models and markets. But CIOs have to be empowered to experiment and take risks, and they usually take their cues from the corporate culture at large.

On a list of the biggest obstacles to the CIO, more than a quarter of respondents (28%) point to a risk-adverse corporate culture, up from 22% last year. That obstacle scored fifth on the list, behind the vexing perception of IT as simply a cost center (first) and the perpetual problem of attracting and retaining IT talent (fourth). Third on the list, though, was "the fact that top management lacks technology vision." That in itself can't help but put a damper on risk taking in the IT department.

When asked to compare their IT departments and their corporate cultures, about a third (34%) of respondents say both are generally aggressive in strategy and execution, while another third (35%) say both are conservative. That shows the importance of corporate culture -- IT can't do it alone, but it can reflect the tone and temperament set by upper management.

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