Press release: Shadow IT inspires a renaissance for CIOs

DC14-614 (15 December 2014)

CIOs in Benelux are finding new ways to add value to their organisations

Chief information officers (CIOs) in Benelux have an unprecedented opportunity to take a leading role in their organisations, thanks in part to the rise of “shadow IT”. That’s one of the paradoxical findings of a new global study published today by BT, based on a survey of almost 1,000 senior IT decision makers in eight regions worldwide.

“Shadow IT” is the name given to the growing practice of departments, such as finance or marketing, buying their own IT solutions. According to the study, “Art of Connecting: creativity and the modern CIO”, the practice is now common in Benelux, with 63 per cent of CIOs seeing it within their organisations, compared with 76 per cent globally. On average, shadow IT now accounts for 16 per cent organisation’s IT spend in Benelux, compared with an international average of 25 per cent.

The growing confidence of departments in buying their own IT solutions is shifting the CIO’s focus away from hands-on support to a more strategic role centred on advice, governance and security. Indeed, CIOs in Benelux are now spending 20 per cent more time and substantial additional budget on security as a result of shadow IT, the same as the global average of 20 per cent.

Despite worries about a loss of control and sizeable reductions to their overall budgets, the changes driven by shadow IT give CIOs a unique opportunity to evolve their role.

Luis Alvarez, chief executive officer, BT Global Services, said: “CIOs are perfectly placed to nurture creative uses of technology throughout their organisations while keeping a strategic view. Indeed, our research shows that the board expects nothing less.”

Almost four out of ten respondents in Benelux say that the CIO now has a much more central role in the boardroom compared with two years ago, versus 59 per cent of CIOs globally. And 92 per cent believe that their board’s expectations of them has increased substantially during the same period, compared with 68 per cent of international respondents.

This is reflected in the types of key performance indicators (KPIs) that CIOs are now accountable for. Whereas a traditional CIO would have been judged largely on IT metrics, 73 per cent of respondents in Benelux say they now own more business than technology KPIs, compared with 81 per cent globally.

Aligned to this, 45 per cent of respondents in Benelux believe their board now recognises the need for a much more creative CIO, one that can operate across the organisation, orchestrating technology and skills to deliver departmental or strategic business outcomes. It’s a change that the majority of CIOs in Benelux positively embrace; with 56 per cent saying the ability to be more innovative and creative is the biggest plus of their job, versus 69 per cent globally.

Craig Charlton, chief information officer, De Beers, said: “Creativity comes from really understanding your business issues, really understanding technology and being able to put those two things together. It’s the fusion of a pressing business problem with a good command of what technology can do that leads to great ideas. And without creativity, you will end up with a role focused on transactional services and traditional IT, rather than looking to the future.”

CIOs in Benelux view mobility (42 per cent, versus 73 per cent globally), unified communications (83 per cent, versus 72 per cent globally) and cloud (45 per cent, versus 71 per cent globally) as some of the technologies that can help them unlock their creativity. And in a win-win, these are also identified as being some of the most critical to delivering commercial results. So the more CIOs are creative in their use of mobility, cloud and unified communications, the more likely they are to meet the expectations of their board.

Luis Alvarez said: “I’ve been a CIO and to me it feels as if we’re on the verge of a renaissance of the profession with greater opportunities than ever before. In this new environment, CIOs who can adopt a creative, imaginative and visionary mind-set, and look more to their IT partners for innovation and fresh thinking, will thrive.”

Dave Aron, vice president, Gartner, et al.1, wrote: “Digitalization is no longer a sideshow — it has moved to center stage and is changing the whole game. CIOs have a unique opportunity to take a strong digital leadership role in the transformation of their businesses. Seizing this opportunity requires flipping long-held behaviors and beliefs.”

About BT

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services.BT consists principally of five lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2014, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,287m with reported profit before taxation of £2,312m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group.BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

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Notes to editors

1Gartner, Flipping to Digital Leadership: The 2015 CIO Agenda, 04 October 2014, Dave Aron et al.

About the research

“Art of Connecting: creativity and the modern CIO” is based on a survey of 955 senior IT decision makers in the USA, UK, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Benelux and Singapore. The survey was conducted during November 2014 by independent market researcher Vanson Bourne. “Art of Connecting: creativity and the modern CIO” can be downloaded at

For further information:

Dennis Doodeman
Sr. PR & Corporate Relations Manager, Benelux & Nordics
Tel: +31 (0)88 212 51 94