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5 key trends for the new, “creative” CIO

Now in its 18th year, the results of the KPMG and Harvey Nash annual CIO Survey are looking more complicated than ever.

If you thought it was all systems and servers – you’ve come to the wrong place.

CIOs are now expected to be as competent with the technology as they are as a business strategist and business model innovator.

The report calls her the ‘Creative CIO’ – here are five other key developments you can expect to see for this role over the coming year and beyond.

CIOs are getting more powerful

CIOs are getting more influence in the boardroom, with more than ever before reporting directly to the CEO – but that’s still only at 34% – according to the survey of more than 3,350 tech leads across 82 countries.

Chief Digital Officers, the newer kids on the block, are actually getting much more face time with the boss, with 46% reporting a direct line into the chief exec.

CIOs are expected to make money, not do IT

CIOs are now focusing rather heavily on projects that make money – that’s at the expense of helping to create operational savings or, indeed, delivering “stable IT performance”.

That means more time out of the office – particularly if you’re working in a smaller business – and a bit of a skills leap for those who are more comfortable focusing on systems and infrastructure.

“CIOs in 2016 are dealing with a more varied range of challenges than ever before, many of which are far, far away from traditional IT,” explains Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash Group.

“Adaptability, influencing skills and an ability to keep a clear head in uncertain times are becoming increasingly important business skills for today’s CIO.”

CIOs are outsourcing for skills, not to save cash

Outsourcing is increasingly the method of choice for getting specialist tech talent as and when it’s needed – with small businesses saying that these kinds of workers make up more than three quarters of their tech team.

That’s in part because CIOs are increasingly struggling to find people with relevant skills to work for their companies. The survey found that 65% of CIOs believe this will hinder their ability to keep pace with innovation, an increase of 10% on last year’s results.

For the second year running, data analytics is the hottest skill on the market, with the biggest jump in demand for “digital” and “security” expertise.

Cyber is clearly the biggest worry

Cyber attacks are probably keeping many CIOs awake at night – with half of those surveyed saying that data loss and privacy risks are their biggest worries when looking to adopt new, cloud-based systems.

And it’s no wonder – just 22% feel confident their company is prepared to respond to a cyber attack.

But it’s not clear who “owns” what

It’s actually still not clear who owns what in technology terms.

There are now more Chief Digital Officers than ever before, with one in every five companies employing one, a figure that’s tripled since 2014.

But the CEO is actually the most likely person to “own” digital today, followed by IT and then marketing departments.

Given that cyber attacks are on the increase and everyone, no matter what their rank, is working with technology today, the Creative CIO must be clear what is and what isn’t their problem.

Where does the buck stop if someone hacks your systems? If it’s at your door, it’s perhaps time to say no to the next client meeting and start shoring up the defences.

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