Technology investment decisions are increasingly shared between IT and business decision makers, according to the 2017 State of the CIO report. Business decisions now account for some 46 percent of IT investments, an increase of 3 percent on the previous year.

The changing balance can be interpreted in two ways. Either IT is losing control or the figures are recognition that IT is essential to business transformation. In fact, the figures really confirm the increasing partnership between business and IT and the strategic role that IT plays in the business.

Changing Goals

IT has moved from its traditional role of keeping systems running and maintaining uptime to driving innovation and making a major contribution to business success. The role now is to help business transform innovative ideas into deliverable services and improve business outcomes.

While operational efficiency remains a key goal for IT, it no longer tops the list of priorities. Customer experience is now the number one CIO goal, according to the survey. But, surprisingly, increasing operational efficiency is the top priority for line of business respondents.

Balancing Strategic and Operational Goals

That indicates that reliability and availability remain essential to supporting the rapid pace of change. Balancing stability with the agility needed to succeed in the dynamic competitive environment is a major challenge for CIOs. The report found that 72 percent of respondents regard that as a major challenge.

Migration to the cloud and increasing levels of automation are helping CIOs reduce the functional element of their role to give more time to strategic issues. Respondents felt that, over the next five years, to reduce time spent on functional duties from an average of 20 to just 7 percent.

Trusted Advisor Role

From the perspective of business decision makers, CIOs are seen as strategic advisers by 41 percent of respondents. The respondents report that CIOs help them identify business needs and make technology recommendations.

In some cases, the parties work together to build a business case and develop technical requirements. Business leaders look to CIOs to recommend how emerging technologies can help accelerate digital transformation.

The report also looks at the changing relationship between CIOs and other C-level executives. Sixty-one percent of CIOs reported that they regularly communicate with the board, up 5 percent on the previous year.

And, CEOs are setting their IT leaders goals that reflect their strategic role. Among the key CIO objectives set by CEOs, respondents reported driving corporate revenue growth, enabling global expansion, and leading product and service innovation.

Technology Investment Priorities

The changing emphasis is influencing the direction of technology decisions. CIOs ranked big data, business analytics, cloud computing, security management and enterprise applications as the main investment drivers to achieve their business goals.

However, capital investment in technology may not be the most appropriate strategy for the new environment, according to some commentators. They believe that an OPEX model is more suitable, giving IT the opportunity to scale resources up or down on demand in line with changing business requirements.

Business leaders are probably not concerned how IT delivers services, provided it meets the right levels of availability and reliability to meet business and customer expectations.

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