CEOs, CIOs Rank Top IT Issues

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A new study released by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) revealed the top tech concerns for CEOs and CIOs around the world, and their main apprehensions might come as a surprise to many people who follow the industry. The findings, based on polling data obtained from nearly 700 interviews with CEO- or CIO-level executives based in 22 countries, showed that their top two technology concerns are operational incidents and worries about finding skilled IT personnel.


Difficulty in finding enough qualified technology pros to build an sound IT department is a relatively recent phenomenon, and one that has roots in the workforce trends at the beginning of this decade, said Michael Cangemi, past international president of ISACA and editor in chief of the ISACA publication IS Control Journal.


“Apparently, there’s a tremendous scarcity of people,” he said. “Salaries are going up as specialized skill sets are harder to find. It’s probably a turnaround since the decline after Y2K. People have found alternatives since the peak in 2000, and they’re finding the alternative positions might be more enjoyable from a lifestyle standpoint. It has nothing to do with their own performance. It’s a very challenging work environment.”


But these executives will be able to make up for the lack of skilled professionals in their home countries by outsourcing more jobs to India and China, right? Wrong. Many of these ventures have proved to be a wash over time, and nearly half of the U.S.-based respondents in the ITGI survey said they thought it wasn’t an effective solution. “People are not just looking to outsource anymore,” Cangemi said. “Outsourcing can work where there’s scalability, but it doesn’t work in every case. I think that people who have outsourced without doing enough analysis in the first place have found that it’s not the panacea for every IT problem.”


The other highly ranked issue, operational incidents, doesn’t necessarily refer to security breaches. This pertains mostly to technical systems failures that prevent inter-organizational communication and access to critical data. “Incidents reports tend to be top-of-mind for IT executives because they ruin their day,” said Cangemi, who added that this trend was good news for people in help desk and support roles. “I would say the demand for that type of service and that type of person will go up, as well as the demand for help desk and support companies.”


Surprisingly, security and governance rated very low on executives’ lists of concerns. Cangemi suggested that this was due to the significant time, money and manpower that have recently been invested in these areas, and cited the fact that adoption of CobiT, ISACA’s own set of governance standards, had grown manifold in just the past couple of years. “My take is that there’s maturity in IT security,” he said. “If you take a view of IT security by decade and go back about three decades, there was none. Since then, there’s been an institutionalization of protection.”


Perhaps the best news to come out of the survey, though, was the increasing importance and satisfaction of organizational leaders where IT is concerned. IT is included more often on boards’ agendas—63 percent include it on a regular basis, compared to 58 percent in 2003—and the number of companies that indicated they had no IT problems increased from 7 percent in 2003 to 21 percent in 2005.


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