The 2021 State of the CIO: Balancing Growth, Tech Investments — and Expense Management

IDG’s annual State of the CIO report is out, and it provides useful insights into the priorities and challenges facing CIO’s – the executives who often play leadership roles in their organizations’ technology and telecom management and cost reduction efforts.

Thus, for telecom expense auditors, and TEM firms they are potential customers – and it’s always good to know what your customers are focused on.  And as the IDG report makes clear, these executives are increasingly balancing demands to grow revenue, and implement new technologies – while at the same time, managing and reducing expenses to help pay for it all.

COVID-19 Has Made the CIO’s Work More Strategic Than Ever Before

Not surprisingly, the pandemic has had a major impact on the state of the CIO.  For many businesses, innovating with technology was how they survived the upheaval created by COVID-19.  IT  organizations made remote work possible.  They helped keep supply chains intact, and made a massive shift to e-commerce feasible and a source of revenues and profit.

About 30% of CIOs are spending a significant amount of time on cost management and expense reduction

As a result, CIO’s perception of themselves and how they are perceived within their organization has changed.  They have always been viewed as managing a cost center.

Now, over 90% of CIOs see themselves as leaders of digital transformation within their organizations.  This reflects the fact that, according to the study, digital transformation is the top priority CEOs have set for CIO’s – followed by improving IT and business collaboration, boosting IT security, and supporting revenue growth.

Where Should Businesses Invest in Technology? CIOs vs. Lines of Business (LOB) Leaders

As the below table indicates, there are differences between what CIO’s want to invest in versus business unit leaders.  CIO’s top choice is business and data analytics, while their fellow executives see cybersecurity as the top priority.

Source: CIO Magazine / IDG Research.

According to the report, LOB leaders are more bottom line oriented.  They want IT investments to improve profitability and employee productivity.

Cybersecurity and Customer Experience Grow in Priority – But So Does Efficiency

The report also zeroes in on the business initiatives and associated IT investments that CIO’s are working on.

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In terms of business initiatives that are rising in importance for CIO’s, four stand-out: improving customer experience, bolstering cybersecurity protections, the transformation of existing business processes, and increasing operational efficiency.  The last two priorities are code for “get more done for less money” which plays directly into the value messaging we believe TEM providers need to communicate to their customers.

And as much as CIO’s would like to spend more time on strategic initiatives, the report found that: CIOs are “buried” by the functional aspects of their jobs, with nearly 30% spending a significant amount of their time on cost control/expense management.

Conclusion: The CIO Balancing Act

It’s clear from the IDG report that CIO’s have a lot on their plate and a lot of competing demands for scarce IT dollars.  Cost control and expense management may not be what CIOs want to do, but it is what they must do to support other business objectives.

The key for telecom and technology expense management professionals is to show how they can help CIO’s walk this tightrope.  Having an expense management platform like Cloud Age Solution’s gpxcloud can help.  It can automate the expense management process and deliver the business data and analytics CIO’s are focused on.

If you liked this blog post, download our new white paper:  The Guide to Growing Your Telecom Expense Audit Business – Profitably  

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