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The CIO Role Increases in Importance, But Faces New Challenges

By Nick Marsh, Managing Director, Harvey Nash APAC

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Nick Marsh, Managing Director, Harvey Nash APAC

This year’s Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey, the largest IT leadership survey in the world, revealed that APAC CIOs are enjoying unprecedented levels of influence, but are being stretched in many directions. From tackling increasing cyber security threats, to working with the board on innovation and digital transformation, CIOs are now dealing with a varied range of challenges, many of which are far removed from the realms of traditional IT.

Skills Short ages and  Cyber - Attacks Are the Biggest Concerns

The survey revealed that CIOs around the world are being hindered by the greatest technology skills short age since the global financial crisis almost a decade ago. In APAC, over two-thirds (69 percent) believe a lack of  t alent  will prevent  their organisations from keeping up with the pace of change. Big Data skills are the most in demand across the region;  and with 47 per cent of APAC CIOs planning to increase their head count over the coming year, the battle for top IT talent only looks set to intensify.          

"CIOs around the world are being hindered by the greatest technology skills short age since the global financial crisis almost a decade ago"

Asia’s CIOs have also been faced with more cyber-attacks than their global counter parts, with 32 percent of APAC CIOs having to respond to a major IT security incident on behalf of their organisation in the last two years, versus 28 per cent globally.

Less  than a fifth of  CIOs  in the region feel confident  their organisation is  well prepared to identify and respond to cyber-attacks, compared to more than a quarter in 2015,  showing a drop in confidence over the past year.   CIOs in  Japan are the least  prepared,  with only 11 percent having confidence in their organisation’s ability to handle cyber-attacks.

Embracing Digital Leadership

The survey also revealed some positives for the region’s CIOs. In APAC, 44 per cent of CIOs feel well equipped to keep up with the pace of change, 72 per cent feel they are becoming more strategic in their organisations, and 52 per cent plan to increase the budget.

The adoption of Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) with in organisations across APAC, although in line with the global rate of 20 per cent, varies across countries in the region. Singapore stands out as not only the most digitally advanced market in APAC (41 percent of organisations have a CDO), but also one of  the most advanced markets globally.

Over the years, the survey has shown that organisations are seeking to get a better handle on digital disruption. The findings reveal APAC is clearly embracing this change. Japan stands out as the one country in the region that is still struggling to turn digital into a reality. Only 17 percent of Japan CIOs stated their organisations had a CDO or digital lead in place, mean while the majority of IT leaders in the country (72 per cent) feel they are being held back on innovation due to a lack of resources or funding, compared to 59 percent globally.

The number of Asian IT leaders working towards an enterprise-wide digital business vision and strategy increased to 40 percent, an 8 percent jump from last year. Mean while, one in four CIOs (24 percent) have digital strategies for individual business units, this indicates digital is becoming increasingly critical to businesses.

Diversity – Advances for Women in Tech

Some of the countries in APAC have made great strides in improving the diversity of  their IT leadership since last year’s survey.  In Hong Kong,  women now hold 22 per cent of senior IT  roles, putting it  second in the world for  female IT  leadership, sitting just  behind Norway. China is now fourth in the global rankings, with  Australia and New Zealand taking sixth and seventh places respectively.  How ever,  the picture isn’t  quite so rosy for some countries in the region.  Singapore is ranked sixteenth with only 7 per cent of  IT  female  leadership roles.  Japan  comes in at number 23, with women making up a miniscule 4 per cent  of  IT roles. These findings highlight  that,   while there is still much to do,  diversity progress is being made in the region.

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