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Indian CIOs survey: What it takes to be a CIO in 2016

Indian CIOs survey: What it takes to be a CIO in 2016

According to CIO India’s annual State of the CIO 2016 survey, Indian CIOs say they are optimistic about 2016 when it comes to the performance of IT depts. but at the same time CIOs say they'll have to change the way they approach work and focus on the right priorities to get through 2016.  

By Shardha Subramanian
Analysis Jan 29th 2016

The past year has been an interesting one for CIOs. A lot has changed, but some has remained the same. What’s not changed is that CIOs continue to say that the new year will be a good one or the IT department but a challenging one for business and IT departments. That they are satisfied with their jobs. That the horizon of their business plans is between six to 12 months.

What’s changed is that in 2016 CIOs are ready to course correct. They plan to focus on strategic activities like business planning and not just operational activities like budgeting and managing costs—things they focused on in 2015. They are open to the Bi-modal approach of working, among other things. Here’s how 2016 will pan out for Indian CIOs:

Compared to last year, more CIOs say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. At the same time, the number of CIOs who are satisfied but looking to move has gone up by five percent.

They are also satisfied with the way they see 2016 shaping up for their IT departments. Year after year, CIOs have maintained that the next year will be challenging for business and their industries—but a good year for IT departments, in terms of their performance against metrics and goals. They’ve stuck to that answer this year, as well.

But how is the IT department going to achieve its goals if it’s plagued by challenges like inadequate in-house skill sets which have been bothering them for over three years? Other hurdles like delayed decisions from business have also been a constant worry for CIOs.

Despite the IT departments’ many challenges, the CIO role—say a majority of CIOs has gotten stronger in the past year. CIOs who say their role has gotten stronger are from companies that have revenues between Rs 2,000 crore to 9,999 crore.

While the CIO role has gotten stronger, business’ perception of the IT department has gotten weaker. In 2013, close to 30 percent CIOs said business perceives the IT department as a competitive differentiator. But that number has been consistently falling. Only 16 percent of CIOs say business views them as a competitive differentiator.

A major reason that the IT department is not being viewed as a competitive differentiator could be because they are internally-focused. Consider this: Their top management initiative in 2015 was to develop a strategy to improve security followed by increasing the scope of centralized IT or shared services to improve efficiency. None of these initiatives have any impact on business.

Another reason why business doesn’t consider IT departments as competitive differentiators is because they spent most of their time budgeting and managing costs and interacting with IT vendors in 2015. Now, that’s not strategic.


Thankfully, a majority of CIOs say they are changing that in 2016. That’s evident from the fact that one of the top activities that they want to spend time on is strategic business planning and interacting with their company’s CXOs.

And a hint of that strategic planning is evident from the fact that in 2016 CIOs are open to the Bi-modal approach to working. That means, they will use two models of working: One mode is to follow the traditional IT model, which is sequential, and emphasizes on safety and accuracy and the second mode is non-linear, focusing on agility and speed.


While CIOs have figured out their priorities, business has been struggling with its own problems. And one of them is a lack of focus on what really matters. For three years in a row, a majority of CIOs say business has been focusing on creating operational impact—increasing the efficiency of operations, using resources more optimally—and not strategic or customer impact.


Whether they believe business focused on operational impact or strategic, or whether they spent most of their time designing and optimizing business processes, a majority of CIOs agree that the horizon of their business’ near-term plans is between six to 12 months. That hasn’t changed for the last three years.

Now for the monies. Over 50 percent CIOs expect their compensation to increase by 1-10 percent and 46 percent expect it to increase by 11-20 percent in 2016. Sounds like a promising year for CIOs.