What CEOs really think of CIOs

CEOs report having low expectations of their IT shops

The good news for CIOs is that CEOs believe IT performs as expected. The bad news? CEOs say they have low expectations of their IT shops, particularly when it comes to business innovation.

A Forrester Research report set to be published later this month includes survey data from more than 70 CEOs who were asked how they regarded their companies' CIOs and IT organizations. The findings show that while CEOs didn't complain about IT performance, there is a lot of room for improvement in the CEO-CIO dynamic.

"The surprising part of the findings was the fact that CEOs were generally satisfied with IT, but at the same time didn't believe that IT was proactive in terms of business innovation, cost improvements or effective asset-management," says Laurie Orlov, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, who authored the report.

According to the survey, when the CEOs were asked about IT's role in business innovation, 28 percent said IT offered proactive leadership, while 34 percent characterized the IT group's contribution as "poor or mediocre." Another 24 percent said IT would innovate "when pushed to do so."

About one-third of the CEOs polled "depicted IT as demonstrating proactive leadership for process improvement."

In terms of asset management, 54 percent of the CEOs responding were not impressed with IT's ability to track and report on such assets as people and equipment. On the other hand, 31 percent said IT was managing assets effectively as part of its ongoing responsibilities.

Orlov goes on to say that at first glance, CEOs approve of the work their CIOs are doing; on deeper inspection, however, the results of the survey could be troubling for IT leadership.

"It starts to be revealing that CEOs have lower expectations of IT than one might have thought," Orlov says. Reasons for these lowered expectations include CEOs' disappointment in IT since the dot-com bubble burst, and at the same time, CIOs' "hunkering down and being more risk averse" in terms of technology innovation, she says.

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