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There is a sharp increase in the involvement of lines of business in IT investment decisions, according to an IDC survey among CIOs. With 58% of 2013 IT investments predicted to be solely or partially led by business executives, the analyst firm predicts this will rise to 80% by 2016.



These results show that democratization of strategic use of information technologies has shaken up the traditional role of the CIO, who must now wrestle with the vast implications. Approximately 33% of new projects that will be launched this year will be jointly managed by the IT department and line of business executives. The role of CIOs is mostly involvement in determining technical requirements (95.1%), establishing security protocols (91.8%) and vendor selection (90.2%).


Leaner economic times have meant that business demands more from IT. Traditionally, lack of understanding of IT systems and solutions by management meant that IT infrastructure projects received carte blanche budgets without meeting the objectives set by the business. Government spending in the late 90s and early 2000s was especially wasteful in this regard. What has changed is that technology has caught up with management. What was once regarded as complicated, expensive and difficult to understand, has become rationalised, straightforward and logical by senior management. In fact, in many organisations today, IT procurement and projects are treated in the same manner as other business operations in terms of risk assessment and productivity.

The expanding role of the CIO is proof of this. It is not uncommon today for a management meeting to discuss which parts of a project are outsourced, which are delivered internally and split and calculate budgets according to the business requirement. This type of involvement has placed more pressure than ever on system integrators and vendors to deliver projects and products, which deliver on promises and within budgets.

"The increasing role that line-of-business executives are playing in technology initiatives begs the question of how much IT spending is taking place outside of the purview of the CIO," says Jan Široký, regional director of IDC Central and Eastern Europe. "According to CIOs, this shadow IT spending is approximately 15% – and this could be under-reported, as CIOs may not be aware of spending by LOBs."

The relative ease of adopting information technologies coupled with their impact on business has empowered business executives to engage directly in technology-enabled operational improvement. Adoption of cloud services by business executives has not been limited to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Just as we saw CEOs and CFOs driving the adoption of outsourcing and managed services, the economic advantages of cloud services have captured CFOs' attention and compelled the migration to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) in some isolated but significant instances.

By Angela Sutherland

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