Top five issues facing CIOs

Chief information officers face a gauntlet of issues when bringing IT to business, but few involve technology, according to CIO Connect.

The group, a networking organisation for chief information officers, frequently surveys and meets with its membership of IT executives. Based on those conversations, managing director Nick Kirkland told IT PRO the top five challenges facing them today.

It's been said so often it's become a clich, but one of the most important issues is aligning business needs with IT, he said. "You need to have a business literate IT team," said Kirkland. "We've been talking about this for 20 years, but need to make sure expectations are meeting delivery."

But once IT and business are on speaking terms, chief information officers need to improve their change management. "One assumes projects are put together to improve business, but they can take a long time to get to that point," Kirkland said.

The problem isn't technology, as IT only makes up ten per cent of most business projects, he said. But managers need to improve their focus on people, communications and managing change. "CIOs need to upskill in project management," he said.

Another issue is access to knowledge. "There's no shortage of data coming out of systems, there's data everywhere," Kirkland said. "But it needs to be interpreted to deliver insight." He added that chief information officers have been helped by improving business analysis tools.

A fourth hurdle IT managers face is dealing with the next generation of the workforce, who are used to having technology tools how and when they like them, leading to different ways of working. "The Google and iPod-generation have expectations they can use technology however they want, but moving into a corporation, technology gets locked down," said Kirkland.

While this new workforce is used to using collaborative tools such as instant messaging, IT departments are trying to increase security by locking down areas where data could leak or viruses could gain access. "There are definite challenges coming around the consumerisation of IT," said Kirkland.

Indeed, security is the last of the five top challenges facing them, Kirkland said, because it's no longer just about locking down access. "Security is going to have to move toward enabling more access and monitoring data leakage," he said.

One example will be the move to document-level access controls, which could make collaboration inside the company and between companies even more difficult. "It is complicated and it's going to get more complicated," Kirkland said.

Despite the variety challenges, Kirkland said most chief information officers are aware of what they face. "They understand what they need to get there," he said. "But some will inevitably be moving faster than others."