A new survey of business leaders across the Asia-Pacific region shows the growing control of IT budgets by business leaders, with a rapid erosion of control over spending by chief information officers, or CIOs.
The Forrester research, reported by the SMH, shows that IT departments are only responsible for around 60% of IT spending, down from 74%.
It’s a sign of the increasing importance of technology to core business, rather than simply being a set of tools or infrastructure for getting other things done.
The report suggests marketing departments started the trend when they wanted control over companies’ websites, but that’s now extending to cloud computing services and customer databases.
Forrester surveyed 1400 executives in a range of roles around the region and concluded: “Many of the Asia-Pacific CIOs we speak with do not see or accept the growing influence of the business, but the signs are clear.”
This is a good thing. Executives should not just take an interest in technology but be accountable for the decisions they make in how they use technology to drive and grow their area of the business. Without that ownership – and there’s no better proof of ownership than a budget line – it’s too easy to blame “the IT department” when things go wrong.
But there are risks to it too. Business Insider addressed this recently when we asked some CIOs what they found most frustrating about the level of IT awareness from other parts of the business. The tech bosses thought other executives should be aware of things like the potential scale of some IT projects, and that executives from other areas should be at least aware of the key trends in IT management if they are going to assume some of the responsibility for it.
If IT executives are frustrated by this, it might be because they’ve failed to see the emerging disillusionment with their process from other leaders.
The CEO of consulting services group ASG Geoff Lewis told Fairfax that it had noticed growing dissatisfaction with IT departments amongst other executives – CEOs and CFOs specifically. They changed how they work to serve the top leadership directly.
CIOs need a bit of a rebrand. Many are functionally chief technology officers. One of the biggest questions facing all businesses is how they use the data they have available on their customer base – what they know about who buys their stuff – to improve the value in the company’s offering to people.
Executives everywhere are wondering how they use these big data sets. Instead of running the email servers and controlling the purchase orders for phones and computers, CIOs could do worse than reducing focus and handing the purchasing over to other parts of the business, while getting focused on doing something amazing for the company’s customers.