New report highlights top 10 concerns for CIOs and IT leaders

The Society for Information Management recently released its IT Trends Study for 2016, spotlighting the top issues for tech and business leaders.

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On Monday, the Society for Information Management (SIM) released its latest IT Trends Study, seeking to highlight the top movements in IT and the top concerns for CIOs and tech leaders. Clearly aligning IT with business remains a top priority, while analytics and cloud usage continue to grow.

The SIM study collected answers from more than 1,200 IT professionals across 801 organizations. Of those surveyed, 490 identified as CIOs. In listing their top 10 management concerns in IT, nine of the answers appeared within last year's top 10 list as well. For this year's study, the top 10 concerns ranked as follows:

  1. Alignment of IT with the Business - 41.7%
  2. Security/Cybersecurity/Privacy - 36.0%
  3. Innovation - 23.2%
  4. Agility/Flexibility (IT) - 20.6%
  5. Agility/Flexibility (Business) - 19.9%
  6. Cost Reduction/Controls (Business) - 19.7%
  7. Cost Reduction/Controls (IT) - 19.0%
  8. Speed of IT Delivery/IT Time-to-Market - 18.2%
  9. Strategic Planning (Business) - 15.6%
  10. Productivity/Efficiency (Business) - 14.5%

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As noted in the report, "IT Alignment with the Business" has remained the top concern for leaders for the past four years, but it has been a part of the top three concerns for the past 14 years.

While the aforementioned concerns were listed as the "most important" by survey respondents, the IT leaders who participated also listed their most worrisome issues as well. Cybersecurity and privacy topped that list with 46.4% of respondents, while the IT skills shortage came in second place with 28.3%, and alignment of IT with the business rounded out the top three with 24%.

In terms of where these leaders are investing their money, analytics and big data sat in the top spot with 39.5% of respondents citing it as a core investment. Software and application development was No. 2 with 34.1%.

Leon Kappelman, a professor of information systems and the director emeritus of the Information Systems Research Center in the College of Business at the University of North Texas, directed the study. He said that the growth in software development investments was surprising.

"We added some questions this year to get deeper into this and found that a great deal of this is going to integration, legacy-related, and customization, and migration," Kappelman said. "Although we don't know for sure, I think a lot of the increase has to do with moving to and connecting with cloud."

Cloud computing, which hit the No. 4 spot on the top investments list with 27.8%, was also a big focus of the report. In total, 89.7% reported increased usage, 10.3% reported no change, and none of the respondents reported a decrease in cloud usage. However, the usage of cloud relative to delivering IT services was very polarized.

"Those organizations delivering 5% or less of their IT services via the cloud is up by 44.1% this year compared to 2015," the report stated. "On the other hand, the percent of organizations delivering more than 70% of all their IT services via the cloud is up 61.3%."

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) was the main cloud service category with 60.4%, followed by infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

With the heavy focus on alignment between business and IT, and the growth in tech investments listed, Kappelman said that the role of IT leaders will likely change in that they'll be "meeting much more frequently with C-suite peers" and "spending more time with customers and suppliers of the business and their IT people," he said. Kappelman also noted that the industry will likely see "more CIOs coming from outside the organizations and more from prior non-IT roles."

Change is accelerating and IT must be prepared. While each IT team is different, Kappelman recommended focusing on the entire supply chain, building a strong team, and making sure IT knows the "critical objectives" of senior management and helps leadership achieve those goals.

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