IBM Study Reveals Midmarket CIOs Looking to Business Analytics for Company Growth, Innovation

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Eighty three percent of CIOs are investing in analytics to address the "Big Data" challenge while demand for cloud computing increases 50 percent since 2009. 

A new global study of chief information officers (CIOs) by IBM reveals that the top strategic technology investment over the next five years at outperforming midsize organizations is business analytics, with cloud computing emerging as the fastest growing technology area for CIOs.

Today, 83 percent of midmarket CIOs surveyed identified analytics, the ability to extract actionable insights from "Big Data" as their top-priority investment area, while there was a 50 percent increase in the number of midsize organizations that plan to invest in cloud computing, compared to IBM's 2009 midmarket CIO study.

These results and other findings are detailed in IBM's largest face-to-face survey of midmarket CIOs to date. The study, titled "The Essential CIO - Midmarket CIO Study 2011," reflects the increasingly important role played by CIOs of midsize companies today as the global economy continues to recover. 

Midsize businesses together with small enterprises are responsible for nearly 65 percent of the global GDP, representing more than 90 percent of all businesses and employing over 90 percent of the world's workforce. The IBM study looked at what constitutes the fundamental tasks of the CIO and what traits define the outperforming CIOs as they infuse technology into products, services and processes to transform their business, drive profitability and expand into new areas. 

Both CEOs and CIOs in the midmarket are braced for continued volatility. This year, technological factors emerged among the top three concerns for CIOs, in addition to the market factors and macroeconomic factors that they cited in the 2009 survey. These three concerns are equally shared among CEOs at midsize companies surveyed earlier this year. 

Like their peers in larger companies, midmarket CIOs are facing an increasingly complex business environment defined by sweeping changes and the need for gaining greater intelligence, insight and visibility. These CIOs increasingly view tackling "Big Data" as a key imperative to both gaining insight and to expanding relationships with customers and partners. 

CIOs are looking to invest in technologies such as analytics and data mining that not only help them better utilize structured data, but also unstructured data in the form of videos, blogs and tweets that can be obtained through the social web. 

The Shift to Cloud and Mobile Computing 

The technology area that has grown most as a top priority area for CIOs in the midmarket in the past two years is cloud computing. In fact, CIOs are now 50 percent more likely to pursue investments in cloud over the next three to five years to take advantage of the flexibility and cost effectiveness of using hardware and software resources offered through the cloud. 

Trends such as the explosive growth of internet-connected devices and smart phones are driving CIOs to consider more powerful ways to harness mobile applications that drive commerce, better collaboration and enhanced workforce mobility. According to the study, the percentage of CIOs who now plan to invest in mobility solutions, including smart phones and mobile applications, jumped by 11 percent over 2009, to 72 percent. 

Top trends from CIO Study include the following: 

  • Midmarket CIOs are focused on gaining deeper insight and intelligence (77 percent), people skills (68 percent) and client intimacy (67 percent) over the next five years.
  • 72 percent of CIOs at midsize organizations are focused on integrating business and technology to drive innovation.
  • CIOs of midsize companies are harnessing the following tools and methods to turn data into actionable information: data warehousing (64 percent), visual dashboards (64 percent), master data management (63 percent), client analytics (63 percent).

"As the economy recovers and CIOs look more to driving transformation in their companies, their role is evolving to become more and more associated with extracting value from technology and gaining insight from complex systems," said Ed Abrams, vice president of marketing for IBM's global midmarket business.  "CIOs who consider themselves over-performers are aware of their increased impact on the organization – and are steadily turning to analytics and cloud to pursue their visionary goals." 

About the 2011 IBM Global CIO Study 

In late 2010 and early 2011, IBM conducted one-hour, in-person discussions with over 3,000 CIOs from around the globe. CIOs represented multiple industries and 622 from midsize organizations representing both growth and mature markets. The result is the 2011 IBM Global CIO Study:  "The Essential CIO," which reflects the increasingly important role played by the CIO of today's midsize company. 

The report also highlights a number of recommendations ranging from strategic business actions and use of key technologies that IBM has identified that CIOs can implement, based on CIO feedback from the study. The study is available at the IBM Business Center.