CIOs Taking a Leading Role in Driving ‘Distributed Innovation’

Logicalis Global CIO Survey finds IT leaders taking on a key strategic role, with 83% now driving or enabling new approaches to organisational innovation.

London, 19 November 2018 - The sixth annual Logicalis Global CIO Survey has identified long overdue, significant change in the role of CIOs across Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Australia. 

Today, 94% of these IT leaders spend between 10% and 50% of their time on innovation and other strategic activities, and 38% spend at least a third of their time on this area.  On average, innovation accounts for around a quarter of the modern CIO’s role, with strategic activity (including innovation) accounting for around half of the role.

Tellingly, half of CIOs now see their performance measured according to their ability to deliver service innovation and more than a third (35%) are expected to make a direct contribution to revenue growth – perhaps through digital transformation and by enabling product and service innovation through digital technology.

The comparison with results from previous Logicalis CIO surveys is stark.  Just one year ago, the majority of CIOs admitted that their roles were dominated by day to day IT management. In the 2017-18 survey, the majority of CIOs were spending most of their time on ‘keeping the lights on’ and remained frustrated in their desire to spend up to 70% of their time on strategy.

Their progress towards that goal over the last year has been significant, and appears to have been at least partly enabled by an increasing willingness to rely on third parties to manage day to day IT.  Overall 22% of the average CIO’s IT estate is now managed by third parties.

What’s more, CIOs’ success in taking on a more strategic role appears to be enabling new, more agile and adaptable approaches to organisational innovation.

The way organisations think about innovation is changing, with strategies for innovation now most commonly about enabling small scale, everyday experimentation. Over a third (34%) of organisations now take that approach, with the large-scale projects that once dominated now accounting for less than a quarter (23%).

CIOs are playing a crucial role in this new approach to innovation.  When asked what role they play in organisation-wide innovation, 32% said they played a leading role, while a further 51% pointed to an enabling role.

The findings complement a number of key takeaways in a recent survey of CIOs by Gartner (2019 CIO Agenda: Secure the Foundation for Digital Business). It reports that digital progress has reached a tipping point where a half of respondents say their organisation’s business model has already changed or is changing. 95% of the Gartner respondents believe security threats will increase and calls for CIOs to: “Build relationships with the business and other stakeholders while communicating the value of IT for digital business” something the Logicalis survey shows they are doing as “agents of innovation”.

Mark Rogers, CEO at Logicalis Group, commented: “I am delighted to see CIOs enjoying success in taking on a long-desired more strategic role – no doubt helped by their increasing reliance on trusted third parties to take on more of the heavy lifting associated with day to day activities.

“Most importantly, this shift seems to have enabled CIOs to take central roles in innovation. To my mind, this is essential given that digital technology now sits at the heart of innovation, not just enabling better service delivery, communication or collaboration, but defining entirely new business propositions.

“There is still a long way to go if organisations are to realise the full benefits of digital transformation. But the fact that CIOs and technology leaders are central to this innovation – rather than struggling to keep up – can only give us real optimism for the future.”

Key Findings:

  • 94% of respondents spend between 10% and 50% of their time on innovation and other strategic activities, 38% spend at least 30% of their time on this area.
  • 73% of CIOs are measured on system availability and 62% on their success in reducing the cost of IT and risk mitigation
  • 22% of IT is now managed by external suppliers, and 24% is outside the corporate footprint.
  • 31% off-load day to day IT tasks due to lack internal resources or know-how
  • The IT Department is the biggest user of BI and Analytics followed by Finance and Operations
  • 71% said GDPR passing into law has had no impact on their organisation
  • Nearly a fifth of organisations are using AI and 66% will within 3 years.

The results of the global survey of more than 840 CIOs can be accessed here: