CIO Action Plan: 10 Takeaways From Wall Street Journal CIO Conference

1 - CIO Action Plan: 10 Takeaways From Wall Street Journal CIO Conference
2 - CIOs Need to Start Emulating CFOs
3 - CIOs Are Rapidly Becoming IT Brokers
4 - Mobile Users Should Be Target No. 1
5 - CIOs Need to Be Marketers for IT Services Within Their Own Enterprises
6 - Budgets Continue on the Way Up
7 - Recruiting Wars for the Best Talent Is as Nasty as Ever
8 - Mobile Development Skills Remain a Hot Item
9 - Security Is Still a Top 2 Priority
10 - CIOs Seek New Solutions for Shadow IT
11 - Big Data Is the Next Big Challenge
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CIO Action Plan: 10 Takeaways From Wall Street Journal CIO Conference

by Chris Preimesberger

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CIOs Need to Start Emulating CFOs

CIOs need to start thinking more like CFOs, or else they will slowly forfeit their power to other colleagues. This year, CIOs will be required to better convey their value in pure financial terms because they are competing with a multitude of shadow IT services. We're talking about standard cloud services such as Google Docs, Salesforce, Workday, Dropbox and others, but also about lesser-known open-source and specialized cloud services such as Tucows, FileHippo and others.

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CIOs Are Rapidly Becoming IT Brokers

CIOs will not permit do-it-yourself IT simply for its own sake or because it's easier, ostensibly more efficient and unshackled to corporate red tape. New-gen CIOs are rapidly becoming technology brokers. The fallback strategy now in IT is to buy a tried-and-tested solution; even among midrange and smaller enterprises, the idea of building a custom solution is becoming more and more a liability.

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Mobile Users Should Be Target No. 1

Steve Jobs, never himself a CIO but perhaps one of the best big-picture thinkers of our time, was right: IT is all about the user interface and how to make it work effectively and efficiently for each consumer—and the enterprise. Look at all the attention on mobile devices and the pivot to "personal clouds." CIOs must cater to those consuming their services, or else they will lose to easy and free-to-obtain external services.

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CIOs Need to Be Marketers for IT Services Within Their Own Enterprises

CIOs also must become more advanced marketers within their own realms. Some may go so far as to hire internal marketers to keep end-user market share within the company. After all, IT services are charged back to various divisions and departments, and any "profit" from well-run service departments can be a huge feather in the CIO's cap.

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Budgets Continue on the Way Up

While IT budgets are slowly moving higher, investment in new services also is rising. IT budget growth levels are returning to pre-recession levels, with 43 percent of CIOs operating with bigger budgets in 2013. Analysts have projected that half of CIOs will have larger budgets in 2014; a spot poll at the WSJ event was right in line, reporting that 51 percent of attendees believe 2014 will be better budgetwise at their organizations than 2013.

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Recruiting Wars for the Best Talent Is as Nasty as Ever

The war for recruiting IT development and administrative talent is getting even nastier, thanks to the growth of many successful new-gen IT companies. Despite the move toward 21st-century talent, the classic technology skills of business analysis, enterprise/technical architecture and project management remain the most in-demand overall.

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Mobile Development Skills Remain a Hot Item

Demand continues to rise for mobile development skills: About 40 percent of CIOs are now seeking mobile applications talent, which represents a double-digit increase in demand (12 percent) over the last two years. Qualified developers are sought for both front-end and back-end work.

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Security Is Still a Top 2 Priority

Security concerns remain high on the list—nearly always in the top two in research studies. Only 26 percent of CIOs believe they are well-positioned to deal with current or near-future security issues, down from 29 percent in 2012 and 37 percent in 2011.

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CIOs Seek New Solutions for Shadow IT

Usage by employees of social networks and the general consumerization of IT are as problematic as security. CIOs remain wary of shadow IT and BYOD trends, believing that the advantages they bring are outweighed by the disadvantages. Nonetheless, with new-gen software coming to the fore—such as Cloud Cruiser and others—in this area, CIOs are increasingly looking for new management solutions.

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Big Data Is the Next Big Challenge

Big data is officially a big deal. Half of all CIOs are encouraging big data development, and about the same number expect to invest more in big data-related solutions in 2014.

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