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Conducted over a four month period from January to April, IBM’s 2009 CIO Study included more than 2,500 face-to-face interviews that were combined with financial metrics and detailed statistical analysis. The report also highlights a number of recommendations ranging from strategic business actions and use of key technologies that IBM has identified that CIOs can implement. ‘The New Voice of the CIO’ is available, along with related podcasts and video interviews, at

"The intent was to understand how CIOs can make the biggest impact in their respective organizations," said IBM’s Paul Bellack, national practice leader for technology strategy. He added that the survey will be a very interesting recipe for CIOs. "You can now write a ‘CIO for Dummies’. It’s important because it can be tied back to business success."

In a number of respects, the study’s findings have been in evidence for years, such as the changing focus of IT from technology for technology’s sake to solving business problems, and the CIO’s role from primarily technology to business. What IBM has done is collect the data to support this sea change, and identify what it all means to the builders, sellers and business consumers of IT.

For the first time CIOs reported that they spent more time on business rather than technology matters, said Bellack. And they became full-time members of the senior executives. "They must wear many hats and take on diverse roles." More importantly, the study showed them how they have to behave and what they have to do to maximize their effectiveness to their organizations.

Among the study’s findings was the importance of leveraging analytics to gain a competitive advantage and improve business decision making. Eighty-three percent of the respondents identified business intelligence and analytics — the ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights– as 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 percent of CIOs planning to make additional investments in risk management and compliance.

Other key findings of the survey include: CIOs also are continuing on the path to dramatically lowering energy costs, with 76 percent undergoing or planning virtualization projects; 76 percent anticipate building a strongly centralized infrastructure in the next five years and more than half are expecting to implement completely standardized, low-cost business processes; and they focus 55 percent of their time on activities that drive innovation and growth, whereas traditional IT tasks like infrastructure and operations management now make up only 45 percent.

Bellack said the study examined the three fundamental objectives of CIOs: making innovation real; raising the ROI of IT; and extending the impact of IT in business. And these were further broken down by the CIO’s often incompatible IT and business roles: first, must be visionary and must also be pragmatic; second, need to be a value creator in the business, i.e. squeezing every last drop of potential out to the business, but also a cost cutter, finding ways to standardize IT and get costs down; and third, must be a cooperative business leader, be out in the business understanding what it is about, possibly even having non-IT roles, and at the same time, must be an inspiring IT manager.

One of the key findings of the study was the correlation between business-facing IT and business success, noted Bellack. "The more successful a company is, the bigger the footprint of the CIO is in those business-facing roles." He said it is quite an important finding because if you want to be a successful CIO driving a successful company, "(the study) provides a very rich list of what the CIO can do to improve the company." IBM has been hard at work incorporating the results internally, he said. "There is a direct correlation between the stuff IBM sells and the behaviors, and that mapping has been done."

This is also significant for IBM’s channel partners, he added. "For all of these behaviors there are ways for IBM and the channel to support the CIO." And that creates new opportunities for the channel, from examining the study’s findings and incorporating that knowledge in their go-to-market activities.

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