A New Breed of CIO is Moving In

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A new wave of CIOs are moving into tech departments all over the country... and they haven't worked their way up from the ranks of IT professionals.

That's right. They're the suits.

A new study, commissioned by the Harvey Nash Group plc, a global recruitment firm, and sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, shows that there's a new breed of CIO in town.

''It's funny because there's been some talk about this happening for the last three or four years,'' says Phil Bloodworth, a partner in Advisory Services at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. ''Now we're finding that it's being put into practice. It's actually happening. Companies put someone over technology who isn't necessarily a technologist. They're more of a strategist or a business person.

''That person is expected to bring a sense of business rigor and a broader business focus than just a narrow technology focus,'' he adds. ''It's all about running IT like a business. It's no longer about bits and bytes and nuts and bolts. They have to align to the broader company.''

Increasingly, Bloodworth adds, CIOs describe themselves as business people first and technologists second.

But how is this going over with the other workers in the IT department? Are tech professionals going to respond well to a 'business suit' coming in and running the show? Deciding where their budget money will go? What projects need to be at the head of the list?

Perhaps surprisingly enough, Bloodworth says, by and large, it isn't an issue.

''It's going over pretty well,'' he says. ''Let me tell you why. If you get an IT organization that's not viewed as just driving the bus, but it's viewed as someone who's tactical and strategic, then technology is elevated. IT is becoming elevated. There will be the crusties who don't like that. But the enlightened IT professional, who wants a broader perspective, will like this move. It's elevating their status in the company and it's allowing them to help the company achieve its strategic goals.''

The study also shows that IT budgets are looking up for 2006. The budgets are growing as pent-up demand is released, with 25 percent of survey respondents seeing an increase between 10 percent and 20 percent, and 13 percent are seeing an increase over 20 percent.

Here are some other notes from the survey:

  • Security concerns rank high for U.S. CIOs compared to their U.K. peers;
  • Outsourcing of IT services is a hot topic for U.S. CIOs, with almost all respondents saying they have used outsourcing, and 38 percent of respondents projecting growth in outsourcing budgets;
  • Not surprisingly, reducing costs was the primary reason for companies choosing to outsource, and
  • About 10 percent of respondents said they offshore, or contract with resources outside the U.S.

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