CIOs are increasingly central to business strategy

Research finds that CIOs and IT directors increasingly important in shaping strategic direction of UK firms.

IT management

The IT department is becoming more important in shaping the direction of UK businesses, overcoming the perception of them being merely a cost centre.

So claims research published by Vodafone, which found that IT is now perceived as a strategic priority at board level.

Vodafone surveyed 300 IT directors/CIOs and 300 non-IT business leaders and discovered the IT department is now expected to think about the bigger picture' (88 per cent of respondents).

The report said this comes at a time when the IT department is also expected to manage an increasingly complex technology and communications estate, resulting in personnel becoming a key driver in business performance.

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Quickening technological change is one of the main reasons for the shift in fortunes of the IT department, the research found. IT is now seen as a key part of organisational innovation and transformation, rather than just being viewed as a tool for reducing costs and remaining competitive. Nearly nine out of 10 respondents stated that IT is now an important enabler of change and three quarters said that it has changed the nature of the competition they face.

Despite this elevated status, the research showed that many IT directors and CIOs are failing to live up to these expectations in the eyes of the rest of the business. More than one third of non-IT directors think that their tech counterparts need to hone their communication skills (39 per cent) and communicate more effectively with other functions (35 per cent).

However, 55 per cent of IT directors have seen their tech and communications estate become more complex in recent years, with the main concerns being keeping their knowledge up to date (63 per cent) and the threat of more complicated security risks (59 per cent).

Far from being the problem child of old, IT departments are now absolutely critical to the growth and strategic direction of businesses in the UK, Jonathan Kini, enterprise commercial marketing director at Vodafone UK.

"The research points to a new generation of IT professionals who are a powerful, multi-faceted breed, thinking ahead, thinking bigger. For some, this will be second nature, for others it will take some time to get there," said Kini.

"Collaborating across functions and with other organisations whether it is suppliers or customers sharing knowledge and keeping on top of both business and IT developments will help develop this new mindset."  

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