Australian CIOs evolve from operations enablers to strategic business partners

02 August 2016
  • Australian CIOs spend on average 56% of their time on operational activities and 44% on developing and managing strategic initiatives. 
  • Australian CIOs say their three biggest challenges in their role as a strategic business partner are technology investment/resource (32%); lack of visibility in the organisation (17%), and; skills shortage (16%).
  • Skills gap: Australian CIOs judge their skills to be in line with what they define as the skills required of a successful CIO. 

The role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) continues to evolve within Australian companies along with the increased importance of IT for businesses. According to an independent survey from specialist recruiter Robert Half, CIOs in today’s market are becoming increasingly more integral to the strategic side of the business rather than predominately focusing on IT operations.  

According to the survey, Australian CIOs spend on average 56% of their time focusing on operational activities aimed at maintaining the day-to-day operations of the business, while 44% of their time is devoted to developing and managing strategic initiatives aimed at business innovation and growth. 

David Jones, Senior Managing Director of Robert Half Asia Pacific said: “Technology advancements, such as Big Data, cloud and mobile technology, are driving business change, delivering growth and innovation across multiple sectors.  This brings more challenges in terms of IT security and all of these changes explain why the role of the CIO has evolved to become more integral to the overall function of the business.”

“The insights coming from these IT developments have become increasingly important to gain a competitive advantage and to make strategic decisions. While maintaining the IT infrastructure and ensuring everything runs smoothly from an operational point of view remains a crucial component for a CIO in any company, the role itself has expanded. In the last few years, the CIO has transformed and evolved from operational enablers to strategic business partners.”

The CIO as a strategic business partner is not without challenges. Almost one third (32%) of Australian CIOs say their biggest challenge within their role is a lack of technology investment and resources, followed by 17% who refer to a lack of visibility within the organisation, and 16% who state a skills shortage and finding skilled IT professionals is the primary challenge. 

What is the biggest challenge in your role as a strategic business partner?   

Lack of technology investment/resources 32%
Lack of visibility in the organisation 17%
Talent/skills shortage 16%
Lack of time 14%
Ability to influence internal stakeholders 9%
Inability to manage (operational and strategic) priorities 8%
Inability to develop/agree upon a long-term vision 4%

Source: independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 160 Australian CIOs.

Generally Australian CIOs judge their skills to be in line with what they define as the skills required to be a successful CIO, countering any suggestion of a skills gap for IT leaders. According to Australian IT leaders, the top three soft skills needed for any CIO to succeed in their role are leadership skills (56%), analytical skills (51%) and strategic vision (47%). In terms of how CIOs rate their own top soft skills, 58% say leadership and analytical skills, whilst 45% refer to adaptability and flexibility and a further 45% to their communication skills. More than one third (34%) identify strategic vision as part of their top three soft skills.

“The CIO function is evolving which means the skills needed are also evolving. Today’s CIO doesn’t just need to have the technical knowhow, but also needs to show clear leadership skills, be able to analyse IT issues and clearly articulate that technical information and their implications – as well as insights and solutions - to senior stakeholders and colleagues who do not necessarily have a background in IT,” David Jones added. 

“The CIO has become a genuine business partner. Today’s CIO is not just a problem-solver, but also a strategist and an influencer. This evolving skill set has led to the IT leader securing a spot at the decision table.”

What are:

  The top three (soft) skills a successful CIO needs today Your personal top three (soft) skills
Leadership skills 56% 58%
Analytical skills 51% 58%
Strategic vision 47% 34%
Adaptability/flexibility 44% 45%
Communication skills 43% 45%
Stakeholder management/influence 34% 19%
Collaboration skills 13% 20%
Commercial acumen 11% 18%
Don't know 1% 1%

Source: independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 160 Australian CIOs – three answers per respondent.


About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and conducted in April 2016 by an independent research company, surveying 160 Australian CIOs/CTOs in Australia. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace. 

For more information                         

Gabrielle Nagy                                
Public Relations Manager, Robert Half Asia Pacific            
[email protected]
+61 2 8028 7751

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