Is IT moving from a cost centre to a trust centre? CIOs seem to think so

CIOs increasingly see IT moving from a ‘cost centre’ to a ‘trust centre’ — even as the challenges they face evolve and increase.

This is the message from Grant Thornton LLP’s CIO survey, in partnership with the TBM Council.

CIOs who participated in the survey reported that “creating and driving an IT strategy that aligns with overall business/agency objectives” is one of their top priorities, second only to “ensuring that IT systems comply with security and regulatory requirements”.

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This focus on strategy is also evident in how CIOs see the role of their IT teams.

Of those surveyed:

• 81% believe “IT drives innovation or modernisation programs”;
• 75% think “IT has a voice in business/agency strategy and strategic initiatives”, and
• 66% of CIOs say their performance should be measured based on “successful execution against strategy and plans”.

“The days of the CIO serving strictly as an IT operator are over,” says LaVerne H. Council, national managing principal for Enterprise Technology Strategy and Innovation at Grant Thornton.

“CIOs see themselves as trusted business partners, but the road ahead is not an easy one. CIOs should articulate the value of IT spend in the same terms measured by their business partners.”

Demonstrating IT’s value will only grow harder in the face of the emerging challenges. Chief among these are: “conflicting priorities among stakeholders”; followed by “stakeholders’ resistance to change”; “recruiting and retaining talent”; “aligning IT with business goals” and “articulating the value of IT spend”.

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From cost centre to trust centre

The clearest path forward for CIOs to become trusted business partners is to demonstrate that they can control costs and communicate IT value in a way that resonates with the business, according to the announcement.

Through technology business management (TBM) leaders can help their c-suite peers understand how IT brings value to their organisation.

“With TBM, CIOs and their teams use a data-driven financial framework to evaluate investment decisions using a common language that aligns IT spend to business value,” explains Todd Tucker, vice president and general manager of the TBM Council. “With this information, organisations can enable prioritisation, optimise business costs and accelerate decision-making. In fact, 74% of survey respondents identified ‘the ability to shift spending to innovation or growth as the most important benefit of TBM.’”

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Shifting priorities

IT is no longer a ‘keeping the lights on’ exercise, and CIOs are shifting their priorities to meet emerging needs and address critical gaps, most notably:

• 85% are investing in automation software deployments over the next two years;
• 83% have increased spending on cyber security;
• Only 30% are currently using data to “move from information to insight”;
• They believe the top two barriers to cyber security threats are “retaining top-tier talent” and “the increasing sophistication of threats”; and
• They think artificial intelligence will be the most impactful area of IT over the next three to five years.

Grant Thornton and the TBM Council conducted the survey in fall 2018, based on responses from IT leaders in both commercial businesses and the public sector

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.