Oct 21 2011   2:35PM GMT

Technology priorities of CEOs not lining up with those of CIOs

Christina Torode Christina Torode Profile: Christina Torode

The technology priorities of CEOs and those of CIOs differ greatly as those executives move into 2012. That difference is largely due to uncertainties surrounding the economy, a talent deficit, and fluctuating pricing for goods and services. Such was the buzz this week at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando.

Cloud computing, social media and mobility are top of mind for many CIOs, but CEOs are more concerned with traditional IT investments — think ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) — according to a Gartner survey of 220 CEOs employed by large organizations around the world.

“Mobile, social, cloud, and the nexus [of the three] — CEOs in midsized to large global companies don’t understand those words,” said Mark Raskino, Gartner Fellow in the research firm’s executive leadership and innovation group. “They do not volunteer terms like [cloud or social], and they do not understand how such concepts transform the fortune of their company.”

What these business executives do understand is that ERP helps them run the business and CRM helps them win new customers, Raskino said. In fact, anything related to customer wins is the top priority of the CEOs surveyed.

Another discrepancy in terms of priorities? Talent. CIOs are not very concerned about a talent deficit, while CEOs list it as a top concern. “Even though it may not be a top concern for you, it is for your business leaders and you need to be aware of that,” Raskino warned CIOs. CEOs are concerned that too much talent is tied up in a few midrange experts who do most of the work. They would like to see this talent spread out more across the employee base, and technology is one way of making that happen, he said.

The good news is that boards of directors’ expectations of IT are rising, and they are putting that focus on the CEO, who will need to work hand-in-hand with the CIO to figure out how technology will provide a competitive advantage.

“Board members are not saying, we need more social and mobile; but they do have a sense that IT is what helped us become more productive following past recessions in the ’80s, ’90s and 2001,” Raskino said.

Here’s a rundown of CEO top technology priorities for 2012:

  • ERP.
  • CRM.
  • Specific business-line applications.
  • E-commerce expansion.
  • General IT modernization.
  • IT infrastructure improvements.
  • Business mobility as it relates to major platforms.
  • Business intelligence.
  • Supply chain management.
  • Security.

Yet another discrepancy? Business intelligence often ranks among CIOs’ top priorities in Gartner surveys, but BI technology was much farther down on the list of CEOs’ priorities.

In the end, CIOs need to help CEOs recognize the need for such newer technology concepts as the cloud, mobility, grid computing and business process reengineering, Raskino said. IT executives have to do this because they are the ones who will make it possible for their businesses to increase productivity, create growth and help solve our economic problems.

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