Volume 4, Number 8 -- March 6, 2007

Gartner CIO Survey Shows Different Priorities for Business and IT in 2007

Published: March 6, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Getting business managers and IT managers on the same page is always a challenge, whether times are good or times are bad. And if the latest Gartner Executive Programs (EXP) survey of more than 1,400 chief information officers is any indication, 2007 is not lining up to be an exception. But the things that CIOs will have to do to make upper management and bean counters happy might be a little different this year.

This year's installment of the Gartner EXP survey is officially called Creating Enterprise Leverage: The 2007 CIO Agenda, and it is based on data culled from interviews with over 1,400 CIOs that have an average IT budget of $90 million and who together steer more than $100 billion in IT spending per year. (That is about one-twelfth of the total IT spending in the world, by the way.) The survey respondents span all industries and geographies, which means it is fairly representative, although it given that average IT budget size, the survey skews toward fairly large companies. No small business has $90 million in revenue, much less IT budget, and only the largest mid-sized businesses have an IT budget that large.

In any event, 2007 is shaping up once again to pit business objectives against the objectives that IT managers have to make their shops run more smoothly and to better utilize the resources their companies pay good money for. Business managers have more vague goals, as the following table from Gartner shows, and it will be up to CIOs to try to fit their square pegs into the round holes that managers offer as goals for the company. Take a look, and laugh along with me:

Top 10 Business


Top 10 Technology


Business process improvement


Business Intelligence applications


Controlling enterprise-wide operating costs


Enterprise applications (ERP, CRM and others)


Attract, retain and grow customer relationships


Legacy application modernization


Improve effectiveness of enterprise workforce


Networking, voice and data communications


Revenue growth


Servers and storage technologies (virtualization)


Improving competitiveness


Security technologies


Using intelligence in products and services


Service-oriented architectures


Deploy new business capabilities to meet strategic goals


Technical infrastructure management


Enter new markets, new products or new services


Document management


Faster innovation


Collaboration technologies


Clearly, it is far better to be the person making the bold pronouncements on the left than it is to be the person responsible for installing and integrating the technologies on the right.

"CIOs cannot rely on traditional actions--such as improving operational efficiency, reducing IT costs, and automation that lead to commoditization--to meet executive expectations," explained Mark McDonald, group vice president and head of research for Gartner, in a statement announcing the results of the EXP survey. "Success in 2007 requires making the enterprise different to attract and retain customers."

Well, I am sure glad we cleared that up. I thought IT managers were just looking for golf buddies who would pay for lunch and that data centers were just clearinghouses for vendors' wares.

Gartner, like other consultancies, has always--and will always--explain to CIOs that they need to step beyond creating the systems that deliver information to managers who actually run the business and "create leverage to remain relevant to business." Or some such phrase like that. Obviously, the job of the CIO is to build and maintain ERP and related data warehousing and business intelligence systems as well as the collaboration systems that allow end users to link to partners and customers relatively seamlessly--something that very few computing systems actually do. Business managers always want to change processes--and therefore systems--very quickly, but they do not understand that people are not as malleable as they would like, and software is even less pliable. No matter how many times you say "SOA," this is not going to change. And the reason is because business managers are often idiots--sometimes on a lot of fronts, often when it comes to understanding hardware and software.

Rather than tell IT why it must change, I think business managers who have great MBA vocabularies ought to see the Byzantine complexity makes up the processes that comprise a business and have a whirl at encapsulating them in code--and then see how they feel when someone asks them to change it without taking the systems down, having an outage, or messing up interdependencies, or getting more budget.

That last one is an interesting one. Based on the EXP survey, Gartner expects worldwide IT budgets to increase by about 3 percent in 2007, a statistical dead heat with the 2.7 percent increase in IT budgets globally in 2006. The survey indicated that 51 percent of CIOs were planning for a budget increase, with 30 percent expecting the same budget this year and 19 percent staring down a budget cut in the IT department. Do more with less, do a lot more with the same, or do way more with a tiny bit more. Either way, it is still better to be in the board room than in the data center.

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Kevin Vandever,
Shannon O'Donnell, Victor Rozek, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
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