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CIOs Claiming Leadership Role in Innovation and Transformation

Published: August 14th, 2017 By:

Toronto, ON (August 14, 2017) – A CIO’s leadership skills are becoming just as important as their technological savvy, according to new survey released by IT World Canada (ITWC), the nation’s largest content house serving the technology industry.

“As more business undergo digital transformation, CIOs are increasingly being tapped to help lead the initiatives, not simply to support them,” says Jim Love, ITWC’s CIO and the lead author of the CanadianCIO Census report for the past four years. “They are involved in more C-suite discussions, they expect to have bigger budgets, and they plan to spend more of that budget on innovation than in previous years.”

For the first time, business innovation is one of the CIO’s top three day-to-day priorities. The report also found that customer expectations and the need to demonstrate innovation capabilities to both customers and employees were the main drivers of digital transformation efforts.

“It’s a good year to be a CIO in Canada,” adds Ron Babin, a Ryerson University business professor who helped draft the report. “Hiring expectations are strong, the cloud appears to have delivered on its initial promise and CIOs are gaining seniority as they stay in the position longer.”

 The big challenge of the job is the balancing the traditional requirement “to keep the lights on” and protect data and systems while pushing forward with innovation and transformation initiatives that will keep companies competitive and protect them from disruption by digitally savvy competitors, says Love.

CIOs have plenty of exciting tools at hand help them deliver on their mandates, but the survey CIOs have reservations around implementation. While cloud and mobility have generally met or exceeded expectations, the utility of artificial intelligence, traditional outsourcing, the Internet of Things and social media have been disappointing.


Report specifics:


  • Forty-four per cent of IT organizations are hiring staff in 2017; roughly half of survey respondents are holding steady or have implemented a hiring freeze. Just seven per cent planning to make cuts.

  • There’s little interest in Chief Security Officer, Chief Compliance, and Risk Officer positions. These are in place for about 35 per cent of organizations, with limited or no plans for further expansion.

  • The positions most in demand include Big Data/BI/Analytics (34 per cent hiring), Business Analysis (31 per cent), and Enterprise application development (29 per cent)


Budget and spending

  • Most Canadian CIOs expect the multi-year trend of increasing technology budgets for to hold: 57 per cent expect to see budget increases, with 11 per cent expecting an increase of more than 15 per cent or more.

  • The bigger the budget increase, the bigger the spend on innovation. Over 60 per cent of CIOs say they plan to spend at least six per cent — some over 15 per cent — of their bigger budgets on innovation and new initiatives.

Now in its fifth year, the CanadianCIO Census is the largest survey of its kind. Additional findings from the survey include:

  • CIO’s top concerns over the next 12-months revolve around security. Number two is customer experience.

  • CIOs are more likely to “move into the cloud” now that significantly large cloud providers have moved to Canada. Local data centres appear to ease concerns about security and data sovereignty.

  • Over 28 per cent of respondents said traditional outsourcing fell below expectations. Only 10 per cent said outsourcing exceeded expectations.


Beyond 2017

Digital transformation will continue to grow in importance, especially in the financial services, retail and communications. CIOs, who now have more input into corporate strategy, will continue to lead their companies’ charge toward a more digital-centric future. The stock of CIOs who are successful will continue to rise as companies place more value on staff members who understand both the legacy technologies and the potential and integration issues of the new technologies.

The survey report is based on an extensive survey completed by 164 CIOs or senior leaders during April and May 2017. The  full report is available for download.

A 45- minute webinar on the findings of the 2017 CanadianCIO Census will be held on October 4, with IT World Canada CIO Jim Love, and guest Kovar Gregory, a senior director at CA Technologies.

About CanadianCIO and ITWC

CanadianCIO is Canada’s authoritative voice on the business challenges technology professionals face as they implement, maintaining and try to achieve ROI on technology investments. ITWC is a privately-owned digital media and content services company built on more than three decades of solid relationships with Canada’s technology decision-makers through award-winning excellence in journalism.


About CA Technologies

CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business—from apparel to energy—is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, at CA we create software that fuels transformation for companies in the application economy.


For an interview with Jim Love, or to have Jim speak to your organization about the CanadianCIO survey, contact:

Steve Proctor
Vice President, Marketing and Communications ITWC
416-290- 0240 Ext. 188

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