CIOs abandon ‘top-down IT’ for smarter innovation partnerships

IT Leaders are having to deliver enterprise-wide innovation by committee.



Fewer than one third (28%) of global enterprise CIOs now executes a traditional, ‘top-down’ IT strategy as they are increasingly forced to work with internal business units and outside technology experts to try and satisfy their external customers’ needs, says a new survey by specialist integrator of next-generation technologies, Teneo.




In stark contrast, the survey found that more than half (52%) of IT chiefs followed a board-driven IT strategy two years ago - and the shift to more devolved and collaborative IT strategies is set to continue with under one quarter (24%) of CIOs expecting to have a ‘top-down’ IT strategy in 12 months’ time.




The study¹ of 400 global enterprises (200 based in the US and 200 in the UK) for Teneo suggests that the shift in strategic IT thinking is driven by CIOs’ desire to be more responsive and directly accountable to their clientele. When questioned, nearly two-thirds (64%) of IT chiefs interviewed say they are focused on resolving their external customers’ needs.  




Carried out on Teneo’s behalf by Sapio Research, the survey examines which senior executives in today’s global enterprises actually drive technology-driven innovation and enhanced customer experience across their global organisations: each interviewee questioned is responsible on average for operations across 400 geographical locations.




The survey reveals how CIOs are delivering the IT strategy aspects of innovation almost by committee, using a blend of internal resources and external providers – CIO, board members, internal customers such as business functions and country management teams – that are in effect sharing the development of today’s global IT strategies. Whilst almost half of CIOs (48%) questioned say they want to lead on innovation, almost as many want to play a collaborative role in it (43%).




Joint approaches to realising innovation are on the rise, with collaborative strategies now used by 41% of IT bosses - against only 30% doing so two years ago.




Enterprise IT’s growing devolvement is apparent with 43% of interviewees saying their IT operations are decentralised against 35% saying they are centralised. Nearly one fifth of respondents (18%) runs its corporate IT through a business function such as security or networking, suggesting that CIOs are ceding control of innovation strategy because of their organisations’ complex global operations and extended supply chains.




Survey responses also show how global companies are working with a raft of external technology providers, alongside their in-house resources, to deliver business innovation and greater customer responsiveness. While most IT chiefs (55%) regard a global management consultancy as their go-to innovation partner, this is only slightly ahead of the proportion choosing specialist global technology consultants, and in-house technology units (both chosen by 45% of interviewees) and regional IT partners (41%).




Over one third of CIOs questioned says that their go-to innovation partner is a non-management consultancy technology provider with global reach (36%) or a local technology specialist partner (36%).




Teneo’s CTO Marc Sollars believes that IT bosses are having to work with different partners and collaborate more flexibly to deliver required enterprise-wide innovation: “CIOs know that old-style board-driven or in-house-only innovation models won’t satisfy external customers who are already working closely with them in extended supply chains or federated business models, giving them far more clout than ever before. 




“As a result, IT chiefs are having to defer to business units that are close to the customer, or to turn to third parties that can take on tasks like security or networking monitoring, to deliver better customer experiences and more agile innovation.”




However, Sollars believes that IT chiefs are taking more sophisticated approaches to make innovation happen on a world-wide scale: “CIOs are getting a freer hand on strategy but when it comes to executing plans across multiple time-zones or hundreds of locations, they are having to set up new types of collaborations or regularly hand over specific areas to outside experts as often their in-house teams lack the skills to get necessary results.” 




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