A new global study of more than 2 500 CIOs reveals that leveraging analytics to gain a competitive advantage and improve business decision-making is now their top priority.

More than four out of five (83%) survey respondents identified business intelligence and analytics – the ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights – as the way they will enhance their organisations’ competitiveness.
These results and other insights are detailed in the just-released Global CIO Study 2009 by IBM, which is the largest face-to-face survey of CIOs ever conducted. The study, titled “The New Voice of the CIO,” represents the insights and vision of CIOs from 78 countries, 19 industries, and organisations of every size. The study reinforces the increasingly strategic role that CIOs are playing as visionary leaders and as drivers of innovation and financial growth.
With an increased focus on data analytics, the survey also revealed that data reliability and security have emerged as increasingly urgent concerns, with 71% of CIOs planning to make additional investments in risk management and compliance.
The survey also found that CIOs also are continuing on the path to dramatically lower energy costs, with 76% undergoing or planning virtualisation projects.
In addition, 76% of CIOs anticipate building a strongly centralised infrastructure in the next five years – and more than half of CIOs are expecting to implement completely standardised, low-cost business processes.
Even as they build these standardised low-cost infrastructures, CIOs are able to focus 55% of their time on activities that drive innovation and growth, whereas traditional IT tasks like infrastructure and operations management now consume only 45% of their time.
“CIOs are investing in business analytics capabilities to help them improve decision-making at all levels,” says Pat Toole, CIO of IBM. “In addition, in this challenging economy, CIOs understand that analytics can be key to new growth markets, whether it’s new ways to manage a utility grid or smarter healthcare systems.
"Managing and leveraging new intelligence through analytics is something that today’s CIO is pursuing to gain competitive advantage in these new markets.”
As the role of the CIO itself transforms so do the types of projects they lead across their enterprises, which will allow CIOs to focus less time and resources on running internal infrastructure, and more time on transformation to help their companies grow revenue. CIOs are transforming their infrastructure to focus more on innovation and business value, rather than simply running IT.
In the study, CIOs also identified the top visionary projects that they are working on now or foresee implementing in the future, ranging from process improvement to taking advantage of technologies that can provide immediate and long-term financial impact, such as: business intelligence and analytics, virtualisation and green IT, service oriented architectures (SOA), service management, and cloud computing. CIOs are also focusing on mobility solutions and unified communications, collaboration and social networking tools, and Web 2.0 projects, to enable more effective communications for employees, customers, and partners.
“Clearly the role of the CIO is changing dramatically,” says Toole. “On the one hand they are trying to standardise routine processes and simplify their existing IT infrastructure to reduce costs, hence their growing interest in technologies such as cloud computing. On the other hand, given the central role that today’s CIO performs in driving new business models, whether it’s a smart grid system, an intelligent transport system, or a transparent food supply chain, it’s not surprising that the amount of time they are now spending on driving new kinds of growth for their companies is growing considerably.”