When it comes to investments in data analytics and business intelligence, just how committed is the typical CIO? It depends a lot on how the CIO views their role and on their individual management style, according to a recent study.

Chief information officers generally fall into one of three personality categories, according to the “Global CIO Survey: Creating Legacy,” from research firm Deloitte. How important big data and business intelligence investments are for the organization may depend largely on which of those three ‘types’ the CIOs aligns with.

Deloitte’s U.S. CIO Program Research Leader Khalid Kark spoke with Information Management about these personality breakdowns, and how they impact data analytics and business intelligence trends in 2016. He began by discussing the firm’s recent study on CIO behaviors, attitudes, and strategic alignments.

Information Management: What is the background on this particular study?

Khalid Kirk: “Deloitte has been doing this globally for the last couple of years, but the US has led the conversation about the CIO legacy. The motivation is to actually kick-off a project that we’re calling ‘The CIO Legacy Project’. The idea was to move away from the traditional surveys that CIOs get around benchmarking, or budgeting, or investments, or around different technologies, and change the focus more to the CIO – the person of the CIO and the role of the CIO. Our goal at the end of the day is to make CIOs successful in what they are doing.”

Q. What themes or topics did you concentrate on?

Kirk: “We explored a number of areas. We asked them about where they’re currently spending their time; how they are allocating their time across various activities. We also asked them about their strengths, and we asked them what they thought the ideal strengths would be for a successful CIO. We then asked them about what relationships are important to them; what are their current relationships like with some of the other executives; and then we asked them about their investment philosophies in general.”

“We also asked them where they anticipate investing in the next couple of years – not just purely from a technology perspective, but investments that are going to make business impact or drive business impact. The last thing we asked about -- and this is where the conversation became very personal at times, was their legacy – what is their organizational, their personal legacy, what is their view around that.”

“Obviously legacy has a slightly different connotation in IT terms, such around legacy systems, but the way we defined legacy was around the fact that you can do a lot of things today that will have lasting impact going forward into the organization.

“We probed the on it and some of the CIOs shared their inner passions and why they are doing what they are doing. That was clearly revealing. But at the end of the day, our goal is to explore what we’re doing today – is it just reactionary, or are we conscious of how we’re going to impact the organization along the run and what legacy do we leave behind, not just as technology leaders but as business leaders.

Q. There are four technology areas that have been the big trends for the past few years. What did the survey reveal about investments in each today, and in the near future?

Kirk: “Let’s start with cloud. What was interesting was that we discovered as we delved deeper into the data that there are three very distinct patterns of how CIOs deliver value to their organization. The patterns were “trusted operator”, “change instigator” and “business co-creator”. There is no right or wrong pattern. It is just dependent on the need of the business at that time.”

“Cloud was a really big one for trusted operators. They viewed that as a way for them to think about and engage with internal business stakeholders and drive either some of the cost efficiencies or reliability, or whatever security issues were important to them. Cloud was important, but not as important or digital or analytics or business intelligence. But cloud seemed to be resonating really well with the trusted operators.”

“Similarly, security was a big deal for trusted operators. They predominantly viewed it as a strategic investment. We were a little bit surprised from a survey perspective that when we asked them about cyber security as a business priority, and we asked them where they are investing their dollars and how they view cyber-security impacting their business going forward and that actually did not come up as significantly as other things came up around technology investments. Since it is a global survey, yes, the US had higher number of people who said security was a huge deal for them, but still not as important as business intelligence, analytics, and digital and other technologies that they’re investing in.”

Q. How did CIO attitudes differ on mobile technology investments?

Kirk: “As to mobile, we asked them about digital as a bundle so that included mobile, social and web as a category. Again the patterns distinguished themselves as how they viewed mobile. Trusted operators viewed mobile as a way to enable their workforce and that their primary objective. Change instigators were more focused on the end customer to drive some of the customer engagement patterns through mobile. The business co-creators were trying to figure out the business models and revenue models that they could create based on mobile apps and capabilities that they’re able to build. There is a slightly different perspective depending on what the CIO’s role was in developing mobile for the organization.

Q. What about views of data analytics and business intelligence?

Kirk: “We specifically asked about business intelligence and big data and while it felt like big data was very important for a handful of industries, and it seemed like big data is definitely on the horizon, there wasn’t a lot of current investment going in that direction. This was mostly based on the in-depth interviews that we did.”

“There was definitely a realization that analytics was going to play a significant role going forward but in terms of current mind share and current investments it did not come up as a significant category in the conversations.”

Q. What were the most surprising results of the survey?

Kirk: “To me, from a technology perspective, we need to stop talking about technology and we need to start talking about value. We asked them ‘how is analytics, business intelligence, digital, cloud going to impact your business in the next two years?’ Obviously everybody said analytics is going to be the biggest impact, digital not too far behind, cloud is going to be significant in terms of our infrastructure.”

“But when we dug deeper people meant very different things when they said analytics or business intelligence, and they meant very different things when they said digital. Digital could be mobile. Digital could be social engagement through social media. Digital could be a completely new business model.”

“That confuses other executives, and I think we need to get our conversation around these technologies much more centric to the value that we’re bringing. When we use these terms they mean very different things to different people, depending on their context. What we felt was, yes digital is going to be huge or analytics is going to be huge. But it’s coming from three or four different directions and definitions. Our view is that we need to pause here, for ourselves as technology leaders and for our business peers and we need to start talking about business value. That was an Ah Ha moment for me.”

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