Are we behind, really?

All of us have a sense that CIOs are performing better and are more comfortable in their roles than ever.

Stacked up against their global counterparts, however, it may be quite a different story, if a recent report from Accenture called The Canadian CIO Agenda Today is any indication.

Says the report: “If Canadian CIOs do not dramatically and rapidly increase the skill and capabilities of their IT functions while they are investing in advanced technology, they will hamper the progress their investment tantalizingly promises to deliver.”

“In the worst case, rapid expansion of IT systems without any parallel effort to address legacy systems issues could mean CIOs in Canada will head toward a recurrence of current problems only on a larger scale.”

It may be that CIOs in Canada really are no worse or no better off than their global counterparts but on that point, the Accenture study begs to differ. And therein lies a cause for concern.

Says the study: “CIOs identify sizable performance gaps in most areas of their IT functions. The average gap between current and target performance varies from 0.6 to 1.35 on a five –point scale for CIOs in the global sample and from 0.95 to 1.94 for their Canadian counterparts.”

Although it does not come out and say it, the Accenture study suggests Canadian CIOs are underperforming when measured against CIOs in other countries.

Among other findings:

• CIOs in the rest of the world estimate that around 24 per cent of their IT budget is spent on building and deploying new systems compared with only 16 per cent in Canada.

• In some cases, heavy IT demands drive Canadian CIOs to build capacity rather than optimize existing resources, and thus server consolidation is much lower on their agenda than the rest of the world.

Granted, the results of surveys need to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, at the heart of a research is a “proprietary self-assessment tool” developed by Accenture that asks participants to rate how their IT function is performing today versus how they want it to perform.

Could the gap be explained away because Canadian CIOs are harder on themselves and set higher standards?

It might be time for another study.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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