What is Important to CIOs These Days?

Cio Gary Beach of CIO Magazine came by the other day to talk with our senior team and some clients about "The State of the CIO 2007" and other updates.  Gary is always a great speaker and brings not only the data his pub cranks out, but also his own recent insights from the many C-level meetings and conferences he regularly attends.

Some interesting takeaways from Gary’s discussion included:

  1. The breaking down of CIOs into four distinct categories: Business Leader, Innovation Agent,  Operational CIO and Turnaround Artist.  Our enterprise clients are trying to get a handle on the changing role of CIOs vis a vis the C-suite, so it was interesting to see that the Innovation Agent is most likely to report to the CEO.  Gary showed a variety of data (soon to be updated) that indicates that, for the most part, the penduluum is swinging away from cutting IT costs and gaining efficiencies to using IT for business growth and innovation.  A  major shift that requires a whole new set of messages to reach th is group.
  2. Getting in the door with the CIOs is harder than ever.  The 500 CIOs surveyed spend, on average, 4 hours a week meeting with vendors and 2 of those hours are with existing vendors to manage the relationship.  Companies that need to get in front of the CIO need to get to the "Why XX [fill in your company or product name]," as Gary succinctly put it, very very quickly to grab a few of those precious 120 minutes per week.
  3. The number one influence for CIOs, according to Gary’s research (which will be updated over the next quarter) is their peers.
  4. IT budgets recently have experienced their highest increase in 18 months.  Stay tuned to CIO for the specifics on this not-yet-announced piece of data.  That bodes well for the industry.
  5. A recent CIO poll showed that 50% of CIOs are bloccking access to YouTube for their users.
  6. Measuring and reporting the value of IT has jumped much higher on their list of priorities.

Overall, the meeting with Gary confirmed our assessment — and our clients’ views — that the times are definitely a-changing in the CIO’s world.  Which means that anyone trying to reach them has to bring great value and arm them with the stats to prove how this will move the business forward.

One of our clients, Jeff Tench of Level3, asked Gary what is driving this shift.  The answer — customers, primarily, along with employees and partners — dovetailed with what Jeff is seeing in his own company.

All in all, it was an interesting session.  Gary provided a great tidbit, as he often does, for ways to figure out how you can add value to that CIO’s company in a sales situation:  "check their 10-Q’s business risks section."  It may sound simple, but I’ll bet a lot of people are slapping their foreheads as they read this and saying, "why didn’t I think of that?"

And I must admit that my subject for this post is a blatant rip-off of Gary’s idea for getting attention for white papers that are geared for the CIO — "ask a question the reader will want to know the answer to."