Enterprise Mobility Can Unlock Creativity and Deliver Commercial Results for CIOs

Thursday, January 29, 2015.

CIOs are presented with a great opportunity to take a leading role in their organisations, thanks in part to the rise of shadow IT. This is according to a recent global study by BT, based on a survey of almost 1,000 senior IT decision makers from the USA, UK, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Benelux and Singapore.

Shadow IT refers to departments within an organisation, such as finance or marketing, seeking out their own technology solutions outside of the jurisdiction of their enterprise IT administrators, which has become more and more frequent since the proliferation of the cloud. According to the study, this is now common in the US, with 77% of CIOs in the country seeing it emerge within their organisations, compared with 76% globally. Shadow IT now accounts for 27% of an organisationã??s IT spend in the US on average, compared with an international average of 25%.

Such increased confidence from departments in buying their own IT solutions is having an affect of the role of the CIO, with the focus shifting from hands-on support, to a more strategic approach based on advice, governance and security. CIOs in the US are now spending 22% more time, as well as substantial additional budget on security as a result of shadow IT, compared with a global average of 20%.

Despite concerns regarding a loss of control, or significant reductions to their overall budget, the transformation being driven by shadow IT could give CIOs a unique opportunity to evolve and take advantage of a more influential role.

Regarding these research findings, Luis Alvarez, CEO, BT Global Services, said, "CIOs are perfectly placed to nurture creative uses of technology throughout their organisations, while keeping a strategic view. Indeed, our research shows that the board expects nothing less."

This progression is reflected in the survey results, as 67% of respondents in the US acknowledge that the CIO now has a much more central role in the boardroom, compared to two years ago (versus 59% globally). Additionally, 72% believe that the boardroomã??s expectations of CIOs have increased substantially over the same period (versus 68% globally), giving them more business-focused responsibilities alongside their conventional technology-focused remit.

These increased expectations include more creative leadership across the entire organisation, orchestrating technology and skills to deliver departmental or strategic business outcomes. The research reveals that the vast majority of CIOs have positively embraced this, with 70% of respondents in the US identifying the ability to be more innovative and creative as the biggest plus of their job (versus 69% globally).

Craig Charlton, CIO, De Beers, commented, "Creativity comes from really understanding your business issues, really understanding technology and being able to put those two things together. It's the fusion of a pressing business problem, with a good command of what technology can do, that leads to great ideas. Without creativity, you will end up with a role focused on transactional services and traditional IT, rather than looking to the future."

Luis Alvarez added, "I've been a CIO, and to me it feels as if we're on the verge of a renaissance of the profession, with greater opportunities than ever before. In this new environment, CIOs who can adopt a creative, imaginative and visionary mind-set, and look more to their IT partners for innovation and fresh thinking, will thrive."

Almost 90% of CIOs in the US view mobility as a technology which can help them unlock their creativity and play a crucial role in delivering commercial results, with 73% of international CIOs in agreement. Consequently, it appears that CIOs will begin to embrace mobility more and more, to help them meet the growing expectations of their board.

This is an interesting development, considering shadow IT was initially viewed as a potential problem for organisations, as departments going behind the backs of their enterprise IT administrators brought many major data security and governance concerns.

However, as mobility has become a more crucial component of business in recent years, enterprises have had to become more accommodating to the demands of their workforces, adapting to an immeasurable influx of various technologies into all of their operations and processes at the most acute levels. Concurrently, mobile solutions have also had to introduce reinforcements in their offerings, to meet the enterprise-grade requirements of such business users.

It is likely that as organisations become even more immersed in secure mobile technologies, and the roles of the C-suite become more fluid in order to facilitate this, even more opportunities will be presented to grow, evolve and flourish with mobility.