CIOs feel they lack the skills needed to become business leaders

Global survey reveals a feeling among CIOs that they don't have the chops needed to stand out in their job.

Image: Deloitte

CIOs see themselves as good managers but feel they lack the vision and influence needed to become business leaders.

The survey of 1,200 CIOs worldwide found that IT chiefs saw themselves as succeeding at the day-to-day running of IT operations but lacking in what they considered "leadership" skills.

The key skills CIOs feel they are struggling to master are influence over internal stakeholders, talent management, and technology vision and leadership.

"These gaps point to a general proficiency in "managerial" skills and a relative deficiency in "leadership" skills for CIOs," according to the Deloitte 2015 Global CIO Survey report.

A sizeable proportion of CIOs felt their strengths lay in managing their firm's IT: the ability to run large-scale projects, to leverage relationships with external partners and to handle operations and execution.

However, while crucial to the CIO role, these skills were generally not perceived by CIOs as differentiating them and making them stand out as technology leaders.

"Our survey shows that across the size, industry and geographies of those organisations surveyed, CIOs share common business priorities and the majority also see a personal skills gap against their target profile," said Kevin Walsh, global head of technology consulting at Deloitte.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, only nine percent of CIOs said they have all the skills they need to succeed in the role.

To complement their abilities, CIOs said they would like more capable staff to whom they could delegate tasks but many felt they lacked a trusted "lieutenant" to take on such tasks.

One of the reasons for this senior talent shortfall, according to the report, is that CIOs don't invest sufficient time in preparing staff to take on more responsibility.

"Only 42 percent identified "talent" as one of their strengths," it states.

"Few invest sufficient time in coaching, mentoring, and training their people."

In general, CIOs have a limited input into critical business decisions, the survey found, with only 42 percent of those surveyed being co-leaders in business strategy decisions and 19 percent in merger and acquisitions activities.

And despite pressure on CIOs to invest in "business innovation" to help drive transformation, on average two thirds of technology budgets are spent on day-to-day business operations.

"Even though legacy and core modernisation was the highest in current spend, only 28 percent of the CIOs said it will have a significant impact on their business in the next two years."

Image: Deloitte

CIOs believe the most important area for businesses to be investing in are analytics and "digital", which encompasses a variety of technologies whose nature depends on the type of organisation.

"Digital investments could mean anything from analysing customer data and developing new products and services to improving customer experience and enabling the workforce to better collaborate or be more productive," according to the report.

While exploiting analytics and these "digital" technologies will require a revamp of core infrastructure in the bulk of firms, CIOs told Deloitte they would find it hard to get the necessary funding.