Survey of Chief Information Officers Finds Upward Movement in North America, Catch-Up in China
September 27, 2004

Ottawa September 27 2004 - - CATAAlliance released today a 32 page Survey Report on how today's IT professional views the role of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) within their organizations. One of the unique aspects of the Survey was the participation of Chinese as well as North American IT professions in providing their views and opinions. 165 responses were received; 148 from Canada and 8 from leading organizations in China.

The Survey Report contains numerous charts, data sources and references, and organizational contacts and is available in English and Mandarin. Research was directed by Professor Tom Koplay in conjunction with 3B International and the University of Québec in Outaouais.

According to CATA President John Reid, "Our goal was to map the CIO's role against the life cycle (i.e., organizational maturity), the size (i.e., budget and number of IT employees), industry sector, and country or location of work; to examine the CIO's present and future role; and, to respond to relevant technology-related, operational, security and other strategic issues."

The Survey tested four hypotheses:

  • IT is becoming a cost center, moving away from core strategic influence;
  • The higher the maturity level of the organization, the more strategically defined the role of CIO becomes;
  • CIO's in North America are focusing on business needs whereas in China they are still trying to sell IT and its merit to the organization; and,
  • China is ten years behind North America in terms of CIO's role and responsibility

Some of the key findings were:

  • Today's CIO has moved out of the basement and into the boardroom, becoming a key figure in purchasing decisions, operational strategy, even marketing and sales. These results parallel similar findings according to a survey done by i n 2002 which determined that the most important role a CIO could play was to create a technology strategy: moving IT away from simply providing desktops to employees.

  • The higher the maturity level of the organization, the more strategically defined the role of the CIO becomes. Similarly, the more established a company, proportionately established is the role of the CIO.

  • CIOs in China share similar issues and concerns, with their counterparts in North America. For example, both Chinese and North Americans respondents chose "Security and Risk Management Concerns" as their number one choice when asked to rank their toughest challenges they foresee for the CIO in the next 3-5 years.

  • China is 10 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to setting up their IT department. CIOs are busy laying down networks and building fibre lines while their North American counterparts are busy integrating Enterprise Resource Planning (ERPs).

Reid concluded, "CIOs cannot escape this ever-changing business environment. In order to survive within the business community, they need to evolve and keep abreast of change. Surveys, such as the CIO International survey, shed light on the changes that surround them and provide an educated glimpse at how CIOs need to adapt. As organizations become mature the CIOs role is becoming more and more strategic, looking more and more like a CEO rather than a CIO."