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Maturing IT Infrastructure Making a Mark on CIO Priorities

CIO priorities are shifting as new IT infrastructure initiatives are presented to improve operations and cybersecurity.

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

Advancements in IT infrastructure are having an impact on CIO priorities, particularly with regard to new initiatives.

Evolving CIO priorities

The latest CIO survey conducted by Harvey Nash polled over 3,000 CIOs and technology leaders across all major industries including healthcare. The results showed that overall, CIOs are focusing outward, creating new ways to improve the IT infrastructure of their company and changing the way they think about digital data. While many of the core values remain constant over the years, the addition of priorities outside of core responsibilities suggests a wider range of responsibility.

While CIOs are focusing on new areas, challenges are presented when it comes to hiring and retaining professionals who can manage and maintain new infrastructure solutions. The survey reported that 65 percent of respondents said a lack of talent will prevent them keeping up with the pace of change which is 10 percent more than last year’s survey.

Cyber security was also named as a significant challenge for IT leaders this past year and is expected to remain a challenge into the foreseeable future. Nearly a third reported that they had to respond to a major security incident in the last two years, with organized cybercrime identified as the top cyber security threat, and amature hackers coming in at a distant second.

Over the past several years the number of core IT priorities have risen as new priorities start to become more important to IT infrastructure. The survey lays out four years of data on CIO priorities and over time, the staple priorities such as increasing operational efficiencies and delivering consistent and stable IT performance to the business have decreased on the priority list. This does not mean that these things are no longer important, but new priorities coming in have shifted CIOs interest.

Increasing operational efficiencies (57 percent) and delivering consistent and stable IT performance (51 percent) still remain at the top of the list, but have gone down from 68 percent and 70 percent respectively since 2013. Some CIOs have been achieving these things over the past several years, making them lower priorities because the CIOs are currently experiencing success in increasing operational efficiencies and delivering consistent and stable IT performance.

New incentives are also taking the place of some traditional goals on CIO priority lists. Cybersecurity was a new addition to the survey this year with 41 percent of respondents identifying it as a core priority, shooting it into the top half of the list.  

“What we are seeing is the development of a ‘long tail’ of other priorities, survey analysts explained. “In the free text field of this question respondents listed an even wider range of additional priorities the board is asking them to address, including: automation, counter-terrorism, artificial intelligence, dealing with regulation and improving agility. CIO responsibilities seem to be spilling out of their traditional technology remit.”

The survey also found that the role of CIO is becoming more important to organizations. Thirty-four percent said that they now report directly to the CEO indicated that their role has grown in importance.  

“The proportion of CIOs now occupying a seat at the executive board or senior leadership committee is up significantly this year and is at its highest level in 11 years of tracking,” the research found. “Now almost six in ten IT leaders (57 per cent) are a member of the senior executive management team, compared to 51 per cent last year.”

The role of IT infrastructure is proving its significance to executives. CEOs are interested in IT projects that make money with almost two-thirds indicating it as a priority, compared to approximately one-third who report that the CEO is more interested in IT predominantly being used as a cost-saving tool.

For healthcare organizations this rise in IT infrastructure priorities can help shape the future of an organization's health IT infrastructure. The rise in cybersecurity priorities will encourage better security for electronic health records and mobile devices accessing the secure network. With better security, healthcare organizations will be able to safely deploy more advanced technology to improve patient care.

Dig Deeper:

Healthcare CIOs Target Data Security, Physician Satisfaction

Lack of Threat Intelligence Tools Weaken Health Data Security


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