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The Burden Of Expectations

Gartner's latest survey of CIOs and their priorities has good news and bad news, and they're both the same news: Expectations for IT as a business innovator are up. It reminds me of that old adage: Be careful what you wish for.
Gartner's latest survey of CIOs and their priorities has good news and bad news, and they're both the same news: Expectations for IT as a business innovator are up. It reminds me of that old adage: Be careful what you wish for.As part of its executive program, IT research and consulting firm Gartner conducts a survey of CIOs every year. This year Gartner interviewed 1,500 CIOs, and in a press release about the survey, Gartner said this:


Eighty-five percent of chief information officers (CIOs) see significant change coming over the next three years as they look to meet rising business expectations for IT to make the difference in their enterprise strategy.


"CIOs see business expectations of IT taking a big leap in 2008, and CIOs are now expected to deliver the solutions that make the enterprise different in a way that matters to company performance and customer satisfaction," said Mark McDonald, group VP and head of research for Gartner EXP. "That is a tall order requiring CIOs to think differently about their role in 2008 and beyond."

Having IT thought of as an integral part of business strategy, as a driver of business innovation and change, has been the dream of most ambitious, forward-thinking CIOs for many years. But as the poet Delmore Schwartz once observed, in dreams begin responsibilities. That means CIOs will be called on increasingly to contribute to that strategy, generate that innovation, and lead that change. Are most, even many, CIOs up to that challenge? That's the question technology managers -- and their CEOs -- must address as the burden of expectations is placed on IT.

Other results from the Gartner survey:

  • CIO tenure has stabilized at an average of four years and four months, "giving CIOs ample time to work with executives to transform their enterprises," according to Gartner.

  • Only 27% of CIOs believe they have the right number of skilled people to meet business needs, which "is impacting both IT performance and IT's support for enterprise strategies."

  • Companies are implementing Web 2.0 technologies and social computing more, and half of companies increasing their investment in Web 2.0 are doing so for the first time.

  • Worldwide IT budgets are expected to increase by an average of 3.3% this year, up slightly from 2007.
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