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5 Things That Keep CIOs Up at Night

July 31, 2014 by

As the person in charge of a company’s IT infrastructure, a CIO has a lot on his or her plate. Ensuring safety, cutting costs, and managing the network on a day-to-day basis are all integral components to the job. But there are many other potential concerns that people who hold this title have to consider. Here’s a look at five of the top issues that make CIOs nervous.

1) One word: Budget

According to a 2013 survey from TechAmerica, CIOs are forced to do a lot with a little, as “more than 76% of IT spending goes to operations and maintenance (O&M) and infrastructure.” This hinders them from making investments in strategic innovation or even upgrading or replacing legacy systems to start. For the CIO, it has become a case of doing the best with the resources that he or she already has, rather than investing in new ones. It's safe to predict that all CIOs are hoping the current trend changes.

2) Outsourcing

As this About.com article states, those entering the IT workforce in the mid-1990s could expect things like “good pay, numerous opportunities, the promise of future growth, [and] long-term job stability.” Two decades later, the landscape has become much more uncertain. With many jobs being outsourced, particularly to Asia, the countries that are on the receiving end of these jobs are increasing sectors and raking in the cash, while the United States’ IT future is much more uncertain. Not only are CIOs worried about seeing a dramatic change in the makeup of their own companies’ IT workforces, but the outsourcing of some jobs might leave them wondering if their job will be next.

3) BYOD

Often, the simple utterance of this acronym causes CIOs to think of one thing: security concerns. Indeed, the idea of letting employees bring in personal devices can be anxiety-provoking—especially for the person most responsible for network security. And while CIOInsight says that “consumerization of IT is [becoming] commonplace,” some aren’t convinced. Leon Kappelman, professor of information systems at the University of North Texas, says that “BYOD doesn't cost a lot of money...[but] it's a big worry.” And while IT departments are slowly adapting to ensure that BYOD is safe and effective, there remain doubts over its security.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Some forward-looking CIOs have decided to embrace BYOD and make it part of their business process. In fact, according to Gartner, half of all employers will require employees to supply their own device for work by 2017.

4) Competition with the CMO

Though all departments compete for their share of the budget, the division between marketing and IT can be consequential. An article from ZDNet.com says that “marketing is emerging as a major technology buyer,” further stating that marketing has begun to focus on creating “engagements” that utilize data and resources. Some companies have worked to increase harmony between the CIO and CMO, as transparency between marketing and IT is key to success. However, in many places, the two are still competing for resources—and, so far, the CMO has been winning.

One mind blowing prediction? By 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.

5) Keeping Up with the Latest Trends

Regardless of its function, every business needs technology that optimizes the resources of departments. Often, optimization involves investing in newer, more efficient solutions. While this is a no-brainer, its existence ties back to the budget (or lack thereof). For CIOs, it boils down to this: do we try to maximize the gains from current solutions, or risk a heavy sunk cost?” The balance between upgrading systems and utilizing the latest solutions, along with staying within the confines of the budget, can be a volatile issue—and, often times, doesn’t have a singular answer.

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