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Why 2017 Must be the Year of the Bold CIO

February 14, 2017 by Keith Johnson

New CIO Outlook report shows shifting priorities as IT leaders balance innovation, cost reduction, and system maintenance

Operational responsibilities.

Budget pressures.

Growing customer and employee expectations.

Increased connectivity.

More complex, hybrid environments.

The list of responsibilities for CIOs is ever-growing, with no end in sight. With digital transformation priorities topping it off this year, the struggle to find time for innovation is a recurring theme.

In fact, IT departments currently spend 83 percent of their time managing IT and communications platforms as well as resolving user issues, leaving only 11 percent of their time for planning and innovation – that’s according to our CIO Outlook report released today. 11 percent of time and effort won’t cut it. Knowing that IT leaders need to be bolder than ever – tackling new cloud-based business models thanks to SaaS, managing new applications, phasing out legacy hardware and software, and finding the time to be a champion for data analytics across technical and business users – IT leaders are being spread thin. How can more time be freed up to spend on strategy? What can be done to improve the efficiency of IT’s time and limited resources? And, which of those decisions can also drive innovation at the same time?

The expectations are great, the resources are sparse, and there’s a continual push for cost savings in addition to revenue-driving contributions. We know juggling is a must-have skill for IT leaders today; with all the balls in the air, what should be prioritized? What can make the greatest impact in the least amount of time? What has the most long-term value that has yet to make its way to the top of that ever-growing list?

We surveyed nearly 300 CIOs to learn what’s weighing on IT leaders’ minds today to answer the overarching question: How can CIOs leave a legacy, adding their voice to the strategic decisions of rapidly-changing enterprises, while keeping IT operations afloat?

Here’s a preview of what we’ve learned so far:

  • IT is expected to save costs. CIOs are expected to save 12 percent of their budget on average over the next five years. 61 percent of CIOs say that their peers in the C-suite place too much emphasis on this aspect of IT, restricting them from other initiatives would impact topline growth.
  • There’s a disconnect between what IT leaders want to be focusing on and where they must routinely spend their time and resources. 58 percent of CIOs say they can’t focus on new trends and technologies due to other pressures. There’s too much to be done, and not enough emphasis on delivering innovation.
  • Being a cloud champion isn’t enough. By the end of 2017, 96 percent of CIOs will have a formal cloud strategy in place. Is your cloud strategy something that is moving the needle sufficiently to keep driving improvements?
  • Overseeing the amount of communications applications used by the average worker is daunting. The average company offers 3 voice conferencing applications, but may also offer a dozen other applications to fill in the gaps – some with and some without screen sharing, some screen sharing only, some for messaging, some exclusively for document collaboration – causing headaches for IT and chaos for people at the office.
  • A majority of CIOs are concerned about the complexity of communications infrastructure and applications. More than 80 percent say they’re too complex and they aren’t equipped to provide ongoing support for workers; more than 85 percent say they take too much time or cost too much to manage and that they have insufficient resources to properly train users on the tools. These concerns can be addressed with the right unified communications platform.

What does it all mean?

IT has what they need at their fingertips to solve some major issues this year – if they’re bold enough. At Fuze, we know that’s true. We know that there are SaaS options that are designed to reduce TCO while also streamlining the amount of work that is expected of lean in-house IT teams. And we know the right cloud-based UC services are designed with these goals in mind. IT leaders who are reluctant to make UCaaS a priority in 2017 will lag behind others who are taking this step as one that will position them as change agents for innovation in their organization.

After all, the top three drivers for UCaaS adoption are 1) improving the customer experience; 2) improving enterprise communication; and 3) reducing operating costs. It’s a win/win/win toward meaningful goals – taking big items off that checklist.

Given the authority to be a cloud champion, IT leaders must think critically about which actions to take now versus later; decisions that will provide competitive advantage, build consensus across teams, keep employees around longer, and create a culture of connectedness to be proud of. UCaaS will help more people – internal and external stakeholders – experience the benefits of digital transformation most quickly.


If the choice to switch from legacy systems to cloud-based communication is in your hands, it’s one of the most powerful cards you can play in 2017 to be bolder about moves to meet and exceed your goals.

Here’s to the year of the bold CIO.

To access the full CIO Outlook report (no registration required), click here.

Stay tuned for more research from Fuze on the evolving role of the CIO as they lead their organizations into the future.



Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson

As Chief Technology Officer, Keith leads innovation and differentiation strategy for Fuze’s product portfolio. He brings to the organization a tremendous amount of product expertise and thought leadership, with over 20 years of related experience. Keith holds a BSE in Civil Engineering and Operations Research from Princeton University.

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