More CIOs in China report directly to the CEO (40 per cent), than any other country in the region, according to the 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey. The role of the CIO has never been more relevant or influential, with 67 per cent of China’s CIOs now sitting on a board or executive management team, 14 percentage points higher than the regional average. Seventy four per cent of CIOs in China also felt their role was becoming more strategic, 2 percentage points more than the rest of the region.
Now in its 18th year, the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey is the largest IT leadership survey in the world, and this year’s results offer fascinating insight into the issues faced by CIOs across China and Hong Kong.
Harry Huang, Director, KPMG China, says: “CIOs are of growing strategic importance in China and the trend is set to continue. China is encouraging corporate development through innovation via a number of incentives. Companies are also enhancing their competiveness using latest information technology to achieve strategic development advantage. For example, the banks increasingly face challenges from the internet giants in terms of providing financial services. The role of the CIO is therefore of strategic importance to a company’s development, they are not only focusing on IT and data issues, but are also providing constructive and innovative development strategies.”
CIO priorities are also changing, with 73 per cent of CEOs focused on IT projects that make money, 10 percentage points more than the global average. There is an enhanced focus on digital strategies in China, with 35 per cent of organisations stating they have a clear enterprise-wide digital business vision and strategy, in line with the global average. The role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is also gaining ground in China, with 20 per cent of organisations reporting they have an executive serving in this capacity, 1 percentage points less than the rest of the world.
James O'Callaghan, Partner, KPMG China, says: “With the emergence of the CDO, and the repositioning of roles between technology, data and digital we see the Hong Kong market as a leading incubator for much of the digital and fintech capability and talent in the region. It is reassuring that CIOs in Hong Kong are increasingly getting a seat at the C-level executive table and helping to shape the direction of business. We think that this trend will continue especially given the emergence of fintech and the innovation agenda in Hong Kong and its development as an Asia hub in this space.”
According to the survey, 26 per cent of CIOs in Hong Kong report directly to the CEO, 7 per cent less than the regional average, and 50 per cent sit on a board or executive management team versus the APAC average of 53 per cent. Sixty eight per cent of CIOs in Hong Kong felt their role was becoming more strategic, 4 per cent behind the rest of the region.
Across the APAC region, CIOs are being hindered by the greatest technology skills shortage since the global financial crisis almost a decade ago, with 69 per cent of Asian CIOs saying they believe a lack of talent will prevent their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change, 4 percentage points more than the global average. CIOs in Greater China are fairing only slightly better, with 64 per cent expecting a skills shortage, while almost three quarters (73 per cent) of Hong Kong’s CIOs expect skills shortages.
In Greater China, as in the rest of the region, data analytics was the most in-demand skill for the second year running (selected by 51 per cent of respondents). This was followed by mobile solutions and digital, as Chinese organisations tap into the lucrative mobile market and embrace digital transformation.
In Hong Kong, the most required skillsets are data analytics, mobile solutions and digital. The proportion of CIOs in Greater China who plan to increase their technology headcount stands at 52 per cent, (8 percentage points more than the global average at 44 per cent, and 5 percentage points more than the APAC average at 47 per cent) which highlights that in the APAC war for talent, China may have the upper hand.
Meanwhile, thirty per cent of CIOs in Greater China had to respond to a major IT security or cyber-attack on behalf of their organisation in the last two years, fractionally above the global average of 28 per cent. Only 15 per cent of CIOs feel confident their organisation is very well prepared to identify and respond to cyber-attacks, 7 percentage points less than the global average.
In addition, the survey notes there have been some major changes in the make-up of CIOs in Greater China over the last 12 months, with women now holding 19 per cent of IT leadership roles, a 14 percentage points increase since last year. This growth in diversity makes Greater China third in the world in terms of female IT leadership and the trend looks set to continue with 65 per cent of CIOs in Greater China stating that they are running, or plan to implement, diversity initiatives. In Hong Kong alone, 22 per cent of the IT leadership roles are taken up by women, 15 percentage points higher than last year, putting Hong Kong in the second place behind Norway in terms of gender diversity.
“Whilst the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey reveals the CIO is enjoying unprecedented influence in Greater China, it also shows the many ways in which the role is being stretched,” said Nick Marsh, Managing Director, Harvey Nash Asia Pacific. “From grappling with an increasing cyber security threat, to working with the board and navigating a skills shortage, CIOs in 2016 are dealing with a more varied range of challenges than ever before. Adaptability, influencing skills and an ability to keep a clear head in uncertain times are becoming increasingly important business skills for China’s CIOs.”
“The role of the CIO in China is becoming increasingly focused on digital strategy,” concludes James O'Callaghan. “CIOs are no longer concerned with solely delivering the right technology to enable the enterprise, rather they are now the key agent of change for moving enterprise strategy forward. This survey confirms that more than ever before, IT leaders must be strategic partners with the CEO.”
Other key Greater China findings include:
Life for a CIO in China
Life for a CIO in Hong Kong
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About the Survey
The 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey is the largest IT leadership survey in the world in terms of number of respondents. The survey of 3,352 CIOs and technology leaders was conducted between December 12, 2015 and April 10, 2016, across 82 countries.
About Harvey Nash
Harvey Nash has helped over half the world's leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology driven world. With over 7,000 experts in more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia and the USA, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and IT outsourcing.
To learn more, please visit www.harveynash.com/executive
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KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 155 countries and have more than 174,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.
In 1992, KPMG became the first international accounting network to be granted a joint venture licence in mainland China. KPMG China was also the first among the Big Four in mainland China to convert from a joint venture to a special general partnership, as of 1 August 2012. Additionally, the Hong Kong office can trace its origins to 1945. This early commitment to the China market, together with an unwavering focus on quality, has been the foundation for accumulated industry experience, and is reflected in the Chinese member firm’s appointment by some of China’s most prestigious companies.
Today, KPMG China has around 10,000 professionals working in 17 offices: Beijing, Beijing Zhongguancun, Chengdu, Chongqing, Foshan, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xiamen, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR. With a single management structure across all these offices, KPMG China can deploy experienced professionals efficiently, wherever our client is located.