Investing in newer technologies for strategic outcomes requires the right kinds of leadership and change management, Gartner said.
Although 2012 may be the year of living hesitantly, as 85 percent of CEOs surveyed said they believe their enterprises will be impacted by an economic downturn in 2012, according to IT research firm Gartner, the survey results showed by a ratio of more than 2:1 that CEOs said they will increase IT investments in 2012, rather than cut it. Gartner analysts said the difficulty with investing in newer technologies for strategic outcomes is that organizations need the right kinds of leadership and change management.
Ninety percent of CEOs can name a company they admire for its use of IT in gaining a competitive advantage, but when restricted to their own industry, a quarter cannot. Apple easily eclipsed everyone as the most admired company for its use of IT, as it accounted for 39 percent of the responses. Google was second with 11 percent share, followed by Amazon at 5.8 percent. The intention to invest in technology is comparatively healthy, said Jorge Lopez, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. The newer trends, such as mobile and cloud, are rising to the foreground of CEOs attention. However, CRM remains CEOs favorite IT capability because marketing is a never-ending competitive quest for customer retention.
Many business leaders learned the hard way in the 1990s and early 2000s that simply buying and installing technology doesnt deliver results if its not carefully directed and delivered in conjunction with coordinated changes to policies, processes, organization, roles and culture.
More purposeful, structured innovation management could be one way to make technology investments pay off, said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner fellow. We see strong CEO intention toward improving it in most sectors, but not in financial serviceswhere, perhaps, regulatory compliance is simply overwhelming all other strategic change thinking.
The survey results showed that CEOs are advancing innovation management, but many face a digital business strategy gap. This year, Gartner probed investment attitudes toward innovation management and leadership attribution. Overall, innovation management is advancing with few CEOs cutting innovation, and approximately half the CEOs saying they are investing more. However, a quarter indicated that they still don't address it as an explicit discipline. When Gartner asked who leads innovation in their firms, approximately one-third of the CEOs selected themselves. After that, a wide variety of executive and senior management leaders were named; however, CIOs were rarely identified and CFOs were never identified.
Any CEO who believes that he or she is the innovation leader of the firm must retain a close direct working relationship with the CIO in this age of rapid business digitization, or risk being blindsided, Lopez said. CIOs must improve IT-related competitor intelligence, and use that information to build a productive relationship with the person the CEO sees as the leader of innovation.
Most CEOs know what new information they need now and in the future, so their CIOs must keep pace. In this year's survey, Gartner asked this question: "If there was one additional piece of information you could use, what would it be?" Nearly all the CEOs had a specific answer close at hand. Most were in the areas of customer and sales information or competitor information.
Gartner also asked CEOs what new kinds of information will disrupt their industries during the next five years. About half the CEOs could not give a good answer; however, the other half provided a wide range of ideas, demonstrating that thinking about the new kinds of information that technology will make available is a potential source of competitive advantage between firms.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.