Read all about IT: CEOs see IT as more important than ever

But CEOs are turning less to CIOs when they want to know more about IT, says Gartner

IDG

IDG

As IT rises up the list of business priorities, CEOs are more likely to read about new technologies than they are to ask their CIOs for information.

That's one of the findings in a new survey by Gartner, in which 31 percent of business leaders questioned put IT among their top three priorities. It's the highest-ever ranking in the survey for IT, which was trumped only by profits and growth, cited by 58 percent.

The 388 business leaders questioned -- mostly CEOs, with a smattering of CFOs and COOs -- are twice as likely to want to build up in-house IT capabilities (57 percent) as to outsource it (29 percent), which ought to be good news for CIOs.

But when the researchers asked how CEOs learned about the technologies they planned to use, "We saw a shift towards reading, it was less humanistic," said Gartner vice president Mark Raskino.

Last year, and three years prior, when asked about their top two sources of IT info, CEOs naturally mentioned their CIO, Raskino said. Now, though, "The CIO comes up remarkably low in terms of natural mentions," he said.

Gaining broader knowledge of IT strengths and weaknesses -- rather than deeply technical answers to specific questions -- is crucial for CEOs as they develop their business strategies.

By way of example, Raskino pointed out that even the CEO of a kitchen appliances manufacturer needs to learn about IT security issues in order to weigh the risks and benefits of connecting the company's products to the internet of things.

A key role for CIOs will be in helping CEOs define performance indicators for their IT initiatives. Although 42 percent of CEOs say they have begun the process of digital transformation in their business, half of them have no success metric for the transformation.

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