Love Cloud, get a payrise

Peter Dinham from iTWire reports that non-Cloud adopting CIOs are less career driven than their Cloud-loving counterparts. Fascinating, isn’t it? I can see how this could be true, CIOs involved with Cloud services generally have a better understanding of the business as a whole, because Cloud delivers on business goals, as well as ticking boxes in the technology department.


Australian CIOs have tied their future career prospects very much to the mast of cloud computing, with recent research revealing that they believe cloud computing is shifting the focus of their role away from primarily technology onto vital business services, and increasing their chances of promotion to CEO.

{loadpositon peter}In a global survey of 615 CEOs, including Australian CIOs, 57 percent of the Australian respondents said that’s what they believed about the affects of cloud computing on their careers, with 70 percent of the Aussie CIOs feeling “ideally positioned” to move specifically to the CEO role.  The research was commissioned by CA and undertaken by reseasrch firm, Vanson Bourne.

CA’s report, however, contrasts the feedback from CIOs about their prospects of moving up to a CEO role, with the “global reality.” CA points out that, in theory, the more strategic focus increases the likelihood of CIOs making the transition to CEO, but in reality globally only four percent of CEOs have risen from the CIO ranks, “illustrating the prevalence of a barrier to career progression.”

According to CA’s managing director at CA Australia & New Zealand, Bill McMurray, the Future Role of the CIO’ report by CA Technologies has uncovered that those CIOs who have adopted cloud computing are “more ambitious than non-cloud adopting CIOs.”

“Demonstrating the extent to which CIOs view their position as a route to more general roles, approximately 93% who have adopted cloud computing, see their position as an opportunity or stepping-stone to other management roles compared to only 30% of non-cloud adopting CIOs of those surveyed, 46% of cloud adopting CIOs versus 13% of non-cloud adopting CIOs saw their current job as a stepping stone specifically to the CEO position. This illustrates the extent to which cloud computing reveals CIO ambition.”

According to McMurray, “there’s no doubt that cloud computing is revolutionising business particularly in these strained economic times,” and he also says it is breeding a “new type of technology leader – one who understands that by using the cloud to innovate, increase speed to market and reduce costs in providing strategic business services, he or she will be in a position to make a significant impact on the business and potentially be positioned to lead it.”

While more than half of the CIOs surveyed said they felt “ideally positioned” to move to the CEO role because cloud computing allows them to spend more time on innovation, business strategy and driving business effectiveness, CA’s McMurray says, however, they face “fierce competition.”

McMurray says the research reveals that 43 percent of CIOs acknowledge that whilst they do have the necessary skills to step up to the CEO role, other job roles have greater experience in using those skills. “How do you marry this ambition with the stark reality today where only ‘4’% of current CEOs has risen from the CIO ranks, 29% have risen from the Chief Financial Officer position and a further 23% were previously Chief Operating Officers?”

McMurray also says that the CIO role today is still viewed as a technical role according to 43 percent of CIOs, and this is the reason why relatively few CIOs have successfully made the transition to the CEO role. McMurray also suggests that a lack of ‘digital literacy’ in the boardroom is compounding this problem with 40 percent of CIOs stating that their board was ’digitally illiterate’ and did not understand the impact of new and emerging technologies. A further 42 percent of CIOs said that the board did not understand the value that IT brings to the business, causing a lack of responsiveness to the market and missed business opportunities.

And, McMurray cites comments by Martin Retschko, national practice director at executive search specialists, Hudson ICT, that the role of the CIO is no longer “purely about technology”, and who further remarked: “In Australia, we are seeing that this position is evolving from the traditionally technical role of a CIO to one that is more strategic and business focused. CIOs that show an understanding of, and commitment to developing the business, are much more likely to evolve beyond their traditional role.”

CA’s McMurray says that the research reveals that ambitious CIO cloud adopters are not complacent either, with 93 percent saying they need new skills to remain effective compared to 63 percent of ‘non-clouders’. Specifically, 48 percent of CIOs, says McMurray, deemed skills in commercial procurement to be vital, while cloud CIOs also prioritised service performance skills and negotiation and sales skills compared to their non-cloud adopting counterparts.

“In many ways, CEOs and CIOs share the same skill-set, particularly in terms of managing budgets, new projects and communicating their plans and strategies with internal and external stakeholders. The role of CIO will continue to extend beyond its technical attributes and we expect to see an increase in the number of CIOs taking on broader, C-Level roles,” Retschko says.

According to the research by CA, perceptions are changing since 54 percent of CIOs report that the C-level management team sees the role of the CIO as becoming increasingly important within the organisation which, according to McMurray, suggests that the boards view of the CIO is already changing.

“This research finds that cloud computing is positively impacting the ambition of today’s CIO and giving rise to a new breed of business savvy technology leaders. To ignore this trend or what these leaders could bring to the leadership of an organisation may well hinder business competitiveness and growth,” McMurray concludes.


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