CIO aligns to C-level exec role

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The evolution of the IT industry over the last five years has resulted in a change of the CIO role from a delivery executive to a business executive, said Tomas Nielsen, research director at Gartner.

Nielsen was speaking during a roundtable presentation at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, following the release of the latest CIO survey results from Gartner, which aims to set the 2018 agenda.

This year's survey gathered data from 3 160 CIO respondents in 98 countries and all major industries. It represents $13 trillion in revenue in public-sector budgets and $277 billion in IT spending. The 66 African CIOs surveyed represent $3 billion in IT spending.

According to the respondents, they spend 38% of their time with the executive leadership team - up 8% points from three years ago.

In addition, respondents said they are increasingly involved in traditional business tasks, such as cost optimisation, building business agility, and developing business strategy and planning.

Nielsen pointed out that the role of the CIO is not the only area that is evolving, as IT budgets are also becoming inflated.

In terms of the survey, CIOs can expect an IT budget increase of 3.1% on average in Africa in 2018, up from an average of 2.5% last year. This figure is also slightly higher than the global average of 3%.

"The financial outlook for IT in Africa looks promising as there will be more money allocated to IT in 2018," said Nielsen.

CIOs in Africa expect to spend the highest amount of new or additional funding in 2018 on business intelligence and analytics (16% of respondents), cyber security (16%) and digitalisation (15%), while 40% reported decreasing their spending on data centres.

"The key is to increase investment in technologies that help organisations reach their business objectives. CIOs should align their priorities with the priorities of their C-level partners. This requires that they know what those priorities are."

The results further show digital business has created a change-ready mind-set for 77% of CIO survey respondents in Africa. It also showed that 50% of CIO respondents in Africa are responsible for the digital transformation strategy of their organisation, and 43% are in charge of innovation.

"CIOs in Africa are fully embracing and capitalising on digital business," said Nielsen.

"Among respondents from Africa, on average, 29% of organisations' processes have been optimised through digital means. As a result, their role is moving to non-IT responsibilities, forcing them to reimagine their role within the organisation."

Security threats

Asked whether they think security threats will increase, 4% of respondents thought they would stay the same and 1% thought risks would decrease, noted Nielsen.

When asked if they have added cyber security experts, 76% of respondents said they have dedicated roles for this position.

"Cyber security has now become one of those unavoidable factors that as a CIO you need to have an answer for."

The survey found that 36% of CIOs in Africa have already invested in and deployed a digital security solution, and an additional 30% are already actively experimenting with digital security.

"Following the recent cyber attacks, it is not surprising that cyber security investments take centre stage in Africa," said Nielsen.

Approximately 96% of respondents believe cyber security threats will increase in the next three years. "CIOs should pay increased attention to this space, as it has direct attention from both corporate executives and external board members."

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