IBM Study: Analytics Emerging as CIOs' Top Priority

Sept. 14, 2009
Leveraging analytics to gain a competitive advantage and improve business decision-making is the top priority for CIOs, according to a new global study conducted by IBM.

In "The New Voice of the CIO," a survey of more than 2,500 chief information officers (CIOs), more than four out of five (83%) respondents identified business intelligence and analyticsthe ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insightsas the way they will enhance their organizations' competitiveness.

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.

Among other key findings of the survey:

  • CIOs also are continuing on the path to dramatically lower energy costs, with 76% undergoing or planning virtualization projects.
  • Seventy-six percent of CIOs anticipate building a strongly centralized infrastructure in the next five years. More than half of CIOs are expecting to implement completely standardized, low-cost business processes.
  • Even as they build these standardized low-cost infrastructures, CIOs are able to focus 55% of their time on activities that drive innovation and growth, whereas traditional IT tasks such as 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," said 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 health care systems. Managing and leveraging new intelligence through analytics is something that today's CIO is pursuing to gain competitive advantage in these new markets."

The Changing Role of the CIO

CIOs are transforming their infrastructure to focus more on innovation and business value, rather than simply running IT, according to IBM. In the study, CIOs 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; virtualization and green IT; service-oriented architectures; service management; and cloud computing.

CIOs also are 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, according to IBM.

"Clearly the role of the CIO is changing dramatically," Toole said. "On the one hand they are trying to standardize 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."

The study, which represents the insights and vision of CIOs from 78 countries, 19 industries and organizations of every size, is the largest face-to-face survey of CIOs ever conducted, according to IBM.

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About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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