Thursday, 02 June 2016 12:01

Survey reveals CIOs in US face chronic skills shortage

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CIOs in the United States are facing the worst technology skills shortage since the global financial crisis in 2008, according to a newly released survey which also reveals that the chief information officers say a chronic lack of IT talent will prevent their organisations from keeping up with the rapid pace of technology change.

The 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey shows that nearly two-thirds of CIOs (65%) say they face a chronic lack of talent, with data analytics the most in-demand skill for the second year in a row, followed by skills for digital strategies and cybersecurity.

Harvey Nash USAPAC president and chief executive officer Bob Miano warns that this talent shortfall poses a serious risk for US businesses and for the economy to stay competitive in the global marketplace.

And, Miano says that in order to backfill talent pipelines, companies need to recruit new college graduates and immigrant engineers. “But there is also an overlooked pool of strong candidates from other backgrounds who are ambitious to transition into high-tech careers, if only they can receive the necessary training in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.”

According to the survey, more CIOs report directly to the CEO (34%) than at any time in the past decade, rising 10% over last year.

And, CIOs with a direct report to the CEO are also shown to be the happiest, with 87% reporting job fulfilment. The findings also highlight how CIO priorities continue to shift, revealing the CEO now focuses on IT projects that make money (almost two thirds, 63%), compared to save money (37%).

In fact, says Miano, some of the traditional top CIO priorities have seen the biggest drop in importance over the last four years, with increasing operational efficiencies dropping 16%, and delivering stable IT performance dropping to 27%.

“The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey reveals today’s IT landscape has dramatically shifted in the last three years more so than we’ve seen in the past 18 years of the survey," Miano says.

"As the CIO role grows in influence, there is more opportunity for the CIO than ever before. The impact of digital strategies, increase in diversity leadership and importance of cyber security are driving this change.”

And, according to Marc Snyder, KPMG’s CIO Advisory Global Center of Excellence leader, the role of the CIO in today’s business is “truly focused on innovation now”.

“CIOs are no longer focused solely on delivering the right technology to enable the enterprise, rather they are now the key agent of change for moving enterprise strategy forward. This survey confirms that more than ever before, IT leaders must be strategic partners with the CEO.”

According to Harvey Nash, this year’s survey supports the fundamental change in the reason for outsourcing, with companies primarily outsourcing for skills and flexibility, not to save money.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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