CIOs invest in analytics to beat the bust, IBM study reveals

10 Sep 2009

More than four out of five of the world’s top chief information officers (CIOs) have identified business intelligence (BI) and analytics as the way to boost their companies’ competitiveness.

Some 83pc of 2,500 CIOs polled by IBM said the ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights will be critical to how they plan to enhance their organisations’ competitiveness.

IBM’s Global CIO Study 2009 is the largest face-to-face survey of CIOs ever conducted and involves 2,500 CIOs in 78 countries and 19 industries.

With an increased focus on data analytics, the survey also revealed that data reliability and security have emerged as increasingly urgent concerns, with 71pc of CIOs planning to make additional investments in risk management and compliance.

“CIOs are investing in business analytics capabilities to help them improve decision-making at all levels,” said Pat Toole, CIO of IBM.

“In addition, in this challenging economy, CIOs understand that analytics can be key to new growth markets, whether it’s new ways to manage a utility grid or smarter health-care systems. Managing and leveraging new intelligence through analytics is something that today’s CIO is pursuing to gain competitive advantage in these new markets.”

The study found CIOs also are continuing on the path to dramatically lower energy costs, with 76pc undergoing or planning virtualisation projects.

Some 76pc of CIOs anticipate building a strongly centralised infrastructure in the next five years. More than half of CIOs are expecting to implement completely standardised, low-cost business processes.

Even as they build these standardised low-cost infrastructures, CIOs are able to focus 55pc of their time on activities that drive innovation and growth, whereas traditional IT tasks like infrastructure and operations management now consume only 45pc of their time.

“The duality of the role of the CIO – to be both a visionary and a pragmatist, value creator and a cost cutter – is an issue I and most of the CIOs I talk to deal with every day,” said Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, CIO and director of the Office for Technology, The Office of the New York State CIO/Office for Technology.

“The fact that over 2,500 of my fellow CIOs shared their hopes, challenges and insights is helpful to me as I assess where I need to be professionally as a CIO and where my executive team needs to aspire to as part of my succession planning. I view this new study as a great opportunity and challenge for my team to transform how we do business in the state of New York.”

As the role of the CIO itself transforms, so do the types of projects they lead across their enterprises, which will allow CIOs to focus less time and resources on running internal infrastructure, and more time on transformation to help their companies grow revenue. CIOs are transforming their infrastructure to focus more on innovation and business value, rather than simply running IT.

CIOs also identified the top visionary projects that they are working on now or foresee implementing in the future, ranging from process improvement to taking advantage of technologies that can provide immediate and long-term financial impact, such as: business intelligence and analytics, virtualisation and green IT, service-oriented architectures (SOAR), service management, and cloud computing.

CIOs are also focusing on mobility solutions and unified communications, collaboration and social networking tools, and Web 2.0 projects, to enable more effective communications for employees, customers and partners.

“Clearly the role of the CIO is changing dramatically,” O’Toole said. “On the one hand, they are trying to standardise routine processes and simplify their existing IT infrastructure to reduce costs, hence their growing interest in technologies such as cloud computing.

“On the other hand, given the central role that today’s CIO performs in driving new business models, whether it’s a Smart Grid system, an Intelligent Transport system, or a transparent food supply chain, it’s not surprising that the amount of time they are now spending on driving new kinds of growth for their companies is growing considerably,” O’Toole said.

Photo: Extracting patterns in high volumes of data and developing strategies from that information is vital in maintaining a company’s competitiveness, an IBM poll of chief information officers suggests.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years