UK tech leaders ‘climb in c-suite rank’

A KPMG and Harvey Nash survey has shown that UK chief information officers (CIOs) are gaining more strategic influence in organisations, while more (54 per cent, up from 49 per cent last year) are seeing budget increases than at any other time in the last 15 years.

The latest analysis, which examines responses from more than 900 senior technology leaders in the UK, also revealed that CIOs are likely to become even more vital in the near future, with 42 per cent of organisations expecting to change their product/service offering or business model fundamentally in the next three years.

Changing staffing requirements are also expected to prompt further prioritisation of tech leadership, as 90 per cent of those surveyed expect artificial intelligence (AI) or automation to replace up to one in five jobs, or more, within five years – although 67 per cent believe the number of jobs created will compensate for those lost.

Lisa Heneghan, chief digital officer at KPMG UK, said: “In today’s digital age, there are very few strategic business improvements that can be made without underpinning technology change, therefore it is no surprise to see CIO’s budgets, responsibilities and impact, rise.”

Six out of 10 UK organisations said less than 30 per cent of their tech team staff were female, while the survey also highlighted a stagnation in the levels of gender diversity in IT leaders across the globe in recent years – 12 per cent in 2019 and 2018, compared to 10 per cent in 2017 and 11 per cent in 2015.

“Technology is often seen as a threat in the job market, but those in charge are leading with a more optimistic take, with two-thirds of CIOs confident about the positive impact automation will have on the workplace,” said Heneghan. “In addition to opportunities for digital transformation, there is clear room to improve the gender-mix in IT roles and to do this a requirement for more effective diversity and inclusion initiatives in the industry,”

The UK is seven percentage points ahead of the global average in large-scale cloud adoption - 51 per cent to 44 per cent respectively - as the research found over half of UK IT organisations have undertaken significant cloud transformations. Also, nine in 10 CIOs said they are more confident about increasing their use of cloud technologies today than at any point in the last three years.

Although cloud is secure as a technology, the migration of data, increased exposure to the public network and often misconfigured cloud infrastructure, may leave organisations vulnerable to different methods of attack, according to the report.

Regardless, the majority of CIOs stated that they felt well positioned to identify and deal with probable cyber attacks. Only nine per cent reported that they are insufficiently ‘exposed to a cyber attack in multiple areas’.

Phil Crozier, head of CIO advisory at KPMG, said: “As the risks of cyber security, data privacy and regulation grow, CIOs are being charged with balancing risks alongside the huge wave of transformative opportunities that come with investments into platforms such as cloud and disruptive technologies such as AI, now both crucial elements in a CIO’s digital strategy.”

Now in its 21st year, the Harvey Nash and KPMG CIO Survey is the largest IT leadership poll in the world in terms of number of respondents, speaking to 3,645 CIOs and technology leaders between 13 December 2018 and 4 April 2019, across 108 countries.

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