This year, the Harvey Nash CIO Survey in association with KPMG has seen the biggest response from CIO leaders in its 17-year history. Between January and April 2015, nearly 4,000 IT executives from more than 50 countries completed the 69-question poll.
The people-agenda story that really stands out to me is how CIOs, and their businesses more broadly, are responding to the disruptive impact of digital technology. During the three years that this survey has tracked digital influence, the dynamics have been constantly shifting. This year, an overwhelming two thirds of CIOs believe digital ‘disruption’ is now a very significant change to business. They tell us that they believe this disruption will create new business models, products and services, that are expected to outperform the old ones.
All very exciting stuff, not least because in terms of strategic impact, we have seen the relevance of CIOs in the board room steadily advance as a result. However, how should established businesses adapt? Most businesses which are successfully turning digital disruption – alchemist-like – into profit are starting with a clean sheet in terms of legacy systems and ways of working.
For established businesses to become digitally-led is hard. It’s not the technology, it’s the cultural shift required. This is the single biggest challenge and not only calls for a different skill set to be nurtured, but a whole new level of collaboration within IT functions and across businesses.
A shift in culture also includes the likes of creating an environment in which you can fail fast and, somewhat counter intuitively, formalise how innovation can take place.
This skills challenge, the need for a new skill-set, is set against a backdrop of CIOs reporting that technology skills shortages remain a pressing concern. In the UK, 59 percent (62 percent globally) believe that skills shortages will prevent their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change. This is a trend which started last year and it appears to be accelerating.
Furthermore, when asked whether the retention of talent is a concern for in the coming year, an overwhelming 87 percent of the UK respondents (89 percent globally) said that it was. Perhaps the importance attributed to this issue is in part a result of the fact that 46 percent (50 percent globally) expect to increase their IT and technology headcount in the next year.
The skills that CIOs feel their teams need in order to keep up with the pace of technology change have also shifted in the past 12 months. There has been a huge increase in demand for big data analytic skills - almost six times higher than the rise in the next most in-demand skill, change management.
The survey identified the sectors most affected by digital disruption now as being the broadcast media, advertising and technology, and telecoms – but this is just a result of these sectors being more dependent than many others on technology today. The impact of digital disruption is being felt more and more widely.
There is a great deal more to the survey findings and if you would like to read more, the Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2015 in association with KPMG is now available (external link).