70% of IT Organizations Still Viewed As Cost Centers

Despite all the new abilities IT brings to organizations and despite all the cost cutting and productivity gains associated with IT in the past few years, CIOs are still being viewed by management as providing too little value for too much money.

According to the findings in Meta Group’s new, semi-annual CIO Desk Reference, a best practices guide for CIOs, 70% of Global 2000 corporations still view IT as a cost center, said Louis Boyle, senior vice president of Meta’s Executive Directions group, a group of former CIOs that looks at IT trends and puts together best practices guidelines for CIOs.

“Less than five-percent of IT organizations are viewed as true value centers that contribute and are actively solicited to participate in business level initiatives,” he said.

The Desk Reference is put together by Meta’s Executive’s Directions group as an offshoot of its CIO coaching practice and Meta’s overall research, said Boyle, that covers all the elements of being a CIO today.

“The experience of best practices that go into it are those of the thousands of CIOs we talk to and have talked to over the years,” he said. “Somewhere less than five-percent of (Global 2000) CIOs are practicing or operating on those best practices.”

The skills CIOs need today have far less to do with technology and a whole lot to do with being good business managers and self promoters, said Boyle. Too many CIOs are poor self-marketers and, while IT organizations in general have done a pretty good job of cutting costs without cutting service levels, corporate recognition is still hard to come by. This is why leadership and communication top Boyle’s list of must-have skills going forward.

“We find that CIOs need to be leaders first, (they) need to be translators of business needs into technology reality; that they need to translate how technology can have competitive business advantage and then pretty well everything else the CIO does comes third.”

To find CIOs getting recognized for the value they provide to the organization, look to market leaders, said Boyle. But there’s only one problem with this: “there aren’t a lot of market leaders out there.”