Wednesday, 17 June 2015 23:54

Women CIOs more ‘risk aware’ than male counterparts, foresee bigger budget increases than the men

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A worldwide study of both male and female CIOs shows that females are more risk-aware than their male counterparts and are more concerned about under-investment in risk initiatives than the men.

According to the Gartner study of 2,810 CIOs – of which 13.6% were women – representing more than $397 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries, female CIOs expect to increase their budgets by 2.4% this year, compared to male CIOs with increases of just 0.8%.

"For a second year in a row, the women in our survey are expecting greater budget increases than the men," said Tina Nunno, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

"While it's not entirely clear why this difference exists, further survey data indicates that female CIOs are more concerned about underinvestment in risk initiatives than male CIOs.

“The risk data, combined with budget numbers, may indicate that female CIOs are more focused on the resource side of the digital equation than their male peers and are, therefore, requesting and accumulating more IT budget money."

According to Gartner, the survey findings underline the fact that a significant majority of CIOs of both genders believe that the digital world is creating “new and additional risks in their environment”.

But, female CIOs, says Gartner,  are significantly more likely to express concern that investments in risk management and risk management practices are not keeping up with new and higher levels of risk in a more digital world — 76% of female CIOs as opposed to 67% of males.

The survey also found that female CIOs were also slightly more likely to agree that the digital world is creating new and different types of risk and that agility will be important in dealing with these risks. While the data may indicate that women are more concerned about digital risks, it may also indicate that female CIOs are somewhat more risk-aware than their male counterparts, the analyst firm surmises.

According to the data, reporting structure impacts the budgets of male CIOs more significantly and adversely than female CIOs, and when male CIOs report to the CEO, they report a significant budget increase (2.8%), but their budgets remain essentially flat in all other reporting relationships with the exception of the COO reporting where a slight negative budget trend appears.

Nunno says that the survey reveals that female CIOs expect to receive budget increases regardless of reporting line, and most significantly when reporting to the CFO (3.2%) and in the "other" category at 4.2%. According to the survey, the most common titles included in the "other" category included CIO/enterprise CIO (denoting that the survey respondent was a business unit CIO reporting to the enterprise CIO), director/executive director, vice president, general manager and chief administrative officer (CAO) in that order of frequency.

Several of these titles are CEO equivalents, and therefore the budget increase is consistent with the CEO numbers, Nunno explains.

The top five technology priorities identified by the survey are the same for male and female CIOs — with minor variations in order — reflecting a shared focus on analytics, infrastructure and data centre, cloud and mobile technologies.

"For good or bad, women and men view the top priorities virtually identically," Nunno said.

"Variations in top priorities by gender in past CIO surveys could often be attributed to significant differences in the industries where male and female CIOs worked. However, more recent data shows little difference in the gender dispersion of CIOs across industries, which may account for the consistency in prioritisation."

In other findings, Gartner says that reporting structure had little impact on the top priorities by gender, except for one exception - digitalisation/digital marketing  - “an important priority for many revenue-focused CEOs’ which moved up to third priority when female CIOs reported to the CEO, but remained at sixth priority for male CIOs.

And, when female CIOs reported to CFOs, who Gartner says tend to be more internally cost-focused, the priority dropped to seventh, while it remained the same for male CIOs. “This is one of several instances where the survey data demonstrated that female CIOs are more adaptable to their reporting structure than their male counterparts,” Nunno says.

Nunno says that the survey also found female CIOs were slightly more likely to say that they needed to change their leadership style in the next three years than were male CIOs (79% vs. 74%). However, the remaining data shows “little notable statistical variation, indicating that male and female CIOs spend their leadership time similarly and see the need for leadership change almost identically”.

Detailed analysis is available in the Gartner report, ‘CIO Agenda 2015: A Gender Perspective’. To view the full report click here.

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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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