Take a quick scan of what’s being written about CIOs and you’ll get a range of perspectives — the job is fraught, constantly in flux, no one wants it, yet it’s increasingly important.

So, how to get a grip on what’s going on in the world of the CIO? For starters, here’s a rundown of some of the most recent data from research firm Gartner about the role of CIO, from the descriptive to the prescriptive.

Perception is important

According to the Gartner report “CIOs Should Consider a New Approach to User Satisfaction,” perception of IT performance plays a significant role in how CIOs view the extent to which IT is delivering on executive expectations. The unfortunate thing here, the report says, is that what executives expect isn’t always matched up with what IT is actually able to deliver. The report details better methods of gauging satisfaction by asking the right kinds of questions to the right people in the company. It describes CIOs as bridge builders, in part by “[enabling] business leaders to better interpret the needs of their organizations.”

The percentage of female CIOs has plateaued

In Gartner’s CIO Agenda 2015: A Gender Perspective, 337 of the 2,473 respondents were women, which is about 13.6% of the sample. That percentage fits into the worldwide average of female CIOs, which is estimated from 10-14%. Garter said the numbers have plateaued and actually are fairly similar to the plateaus found in the numbers of women in senior positions in non-technology leadership roles.

Women CIOs expect greater budget increases in 2015, more so than male CIOs

The breakdown is 2.4% vs. 0.8%. It’s unclear why exactly that is, but it’s happened two years in a row. Gartner did point out that other previous data showed that when it comes to risk management, women CIOs were more concerned about underinvestment in risk initiatives. Risk data plus budget numbers might hint toward women putting more attention toward resources.

Software-defined infrastructures, IT service continuity, and integrated systems are the top 3 emerging trends that will affect CIOs’ decision-making this year

When looking at these trends, Gartner recommends a trio of being aware, engaged, and proactive. That means tracking trends, understanding how they’ll affect current, new, or future operations, placing them on the “shortlist” for things to evaluate or implement. The report describes a situation where people expect to have access to everything always, and as a CIO, merely delivering on that expectation is the “bare minimum.”

CIOs should take another look at their company’s chief strategy officer

Gartner put out an entire report focusing on this idea, saying that culturally, even though CSOs are c-suite, they’re often viewed as “externalities” and even treated with suspicion. In the digital business era, that should be the case, and the report talks about how CSOs increasingly affect the IT and digital business agenda.

Men and women CIOs are more similar than different

One of the report’s recommendations was to avoid gender bias as it found that there are actually more similarities than differences between men and women CIOs in their approaches to leadership, how they view technology, and how they handle digital leadership priorities. For example, the top two tech priorities for men and women CIOs in 2015 are BI/analytics and infrastructure and data center. Women put cloud ahead of ERP in the third and fourth spots, and both put mobile as no. 5. Similarities went on from there.

Publicly announced initiatives are up

When looking at the world’s largest insurers (CIOs of World’s Largest Insurers Continue to Invest in Digital Transformation), Gartner found an increase of 10% in publically announced IT initiatives as compared to 2013. They interpreted this as a possible indicator of growth in IT spending.

A large chunk of those initiatives are mobile apps and digitization

Gartner said about a third of publicly announced initiatives were digitization (18%) and mobile applications (15%). They recommend looking at these trends as a point of comparison and seeing where one’s own company

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