CIOs are Feeling Stressed Out

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CIOs are getting pretty stressed out.

Companies' top techies are feeling the pressure to be innovative while working under tight budget restrictions, according to a survey of CIOs done by Gartner Programs, a unit of analyst firm Gartner, Inc.

''Being more cost effective, reducing business risk and innovating faster are extremely difficult to achieve concurrently,'' says Ellen Kitzis, group vice president for Gartner Programs. ''Together, they risk breaking the budget. For CIOs, it means adding redundancy to address business risks, which increases their costs.''

According to the Gartner survey, cost pressures are the leading business driver for CIOs, who noted that the combination of security and risk management concerns mixed with the need for faster innovation is increasing their stress levels.

The survey also shows that priorities have changed.

Customer relationship management, knowledge management and even satisfying stakeholders have all taken a backseat to a new list of must-do initiatives, such as business continuity, privacy and keeping pace with other businesses.

''IT governance is about ensuring the right people are making the right decisions for the business and being held accountable,'' says Kitzis. ''CIOs have to be multilingual and act as the pivot point, achieving business goals through informed decision making, implementation and accountability.''

In comparing business and IT budgets, the CIOs surveyed said business operating budgets are growing faster than IT budgets. Gartner analysts said there are two ways to look at the trend. One is that there is business skepticism around how effective IT investments have been. The other angle is that many enterprises have genuinely been able to reduce costs without reducing their business impact.

Management priorities also are changing.

From a management perspective, CIOs now rank ''providing guidance for the board and executives'' as the top priority in 2003. That's quite a jump in the ranking. In 2002,it was ranked as the sixth priority.

''CIOs are providing guidance to these key executives, while continuing to demonstrate the business value of IS and IT,'' says Kitzis. ''They are also spending time on a new focus area this year: IT governance. As enterprises become more complex and IT a big budget item, the role of IT governance is becoming critical.''

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