When it comes to their outlook for the nation’s economy, America’s Chief Information Officers are among the most optimistic members of the C-Suite right now, outpacing all other titles—except CHROs. They also share the number one concern of their leadership peers as well: the inability to staff up with top-notch talent.
Those are two of the big takeaways from StrategicCIO360’s inaugural CIO Confidence Index poll, part of an ongoing effort by Chief Executive Group to measure the outlook, challenges, priorities and areas of focus of board members, CEOs, CFOs, CHROs—and now CIOs. In our August survey—of 105 CIOs, conducted the week of August 9—59 percent say they expect business conditions to improve over the next 12 months, rating them a 7.5 out of 10, or “very good”, according to our 10-point scale. That’s 11 percent higher than CIOs’ rating of current conditions—at 6.7/10—which CIOs mainly credit to accelerating demand and hope that the Covid crisis is stabilizing.
This rating of 7.5 is among the highest of the C-Suite—and only surpassed by CHROs’ 7.8, according to our CHRO Confidence Index last conducted in April 2021 before the rise of the Delta variant.
Polled CIOs indeed say demand has been increasing since vaccination efforts began earlier this year, and investments made in new technologies and digitalization efforts are starting to pay off. Many also say that business and consumers are learning to adapt to the reality of Covid and that they expect the fears and uncertainties associated with the pandemic will have subsided by this time next year.
With 59 percent of CIOs forecasting improvements in the year ahead, that proportion is by far the largest among the C-Suite members we poll—and 74 percent greater than CEOs.
Despite the optimism, challenges remain, surveyed CIOs say. At the top of the list for 65 percent of CIOs is the difficulty to find the right talent to carry out the strategy.
“The economy is ready to go, but there are no people available to drive it,” says Brian Berg, CIO of Morgan Services, a family-owned textile company that’s seen its share of transformation over its 130-plus years in business. “People need to get back to work in order for the economy to drive forward strong.”
Talent scarcity is a top concern for most other members of the C-Suite as well, who tell us they are struggling to find the skills they need in the current environment. According to our poll, 55 percent of CIOs are hoping to add to their IT teams if they can find the right talent.
For many, getting a handle on cybersecurity and data privacy is also critical to fulfilling their company’s growth strategy over the coming months: 39 percent of CIOs rank it the number issue of importance.
Not surprising that 89 percent say they’re planning to increase their cyber spend this year, compared to last year—and 84 percent say they’re raising their overall IT budget this year. In fact, nearly a quarter (22 percent) report planning to increase their IT budget by more than 20 percent.
When it comes to forecasting the bottom line, CIOs are taking a more conservative stance than their peers, with 82 and 66 percent of them projecting increases in revenues and profits, respectively, over the next 12 months, compared to 84 and 75 percent of CFOs—and 83 and 75 percent of CEOs.
To receive a copy of the full report presenting the findings, email Research@ChiefExecutive.net.
About the CIO Confidence Index
The CIO Confidence Index is a new monthly pulse survey of CIOs and technology chiefs on their perspective of how current events are affecting their companies and strategies. Every month, StrategicCIO360 surveys hundreds of CIOs across America, at organizations of all types and sizes, to compile our CIO Confidence Index data. The Index tracks confidence in current and future business environments, as well as their forecast for their company’s revenue, profit, cyber and tech investments, and IT staffing for the year ahead. Learn more at StrategicCIO360.com/CIO-Confidence-Index