Press release: Shadow IT Inspires a renaissance for CIOs

DC14-614 (27 January 2015)

CIOs in the US are finding new ways to add value to their organizations

Chief information officers (CIOs) in the US have an unprecedented opportunity to take a leading role in their organizations, 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 the US, with 77 percent of CIOs in the country seeing it within their organizations, compared with 76 percent globally. On average, shadow IT now accounts for 27 percent of an organization’s IT spend in the US, compared with an international average of 25 percent.

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 centered on advice, governance and security. Indeed, CIOs in the US are now spending 22 percent more time and substantial additional budget on security as a result of shadow IT, versus a global average of 20 percent.

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 organizations while keeping a strategic view. Indeed, our research shows that the board expects nothing less.”

Some 67 percent of respondents in the US say that the CIO now has a much more central role in the boardroom compared with two years ago, versus 59 percent of CIOs globally. And 72 percent believe that their board’s expectations of them have increased substantially during the same period, versus 68 percent 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, 87 percent of respondents in the US say they now own more business than technology KPIs, compared with 81 percent globally.

Aligned to this, 70 percent of respondents in the US, versus a global average of 64 percent, believe their board now recognizes the need for a much more creative CIO, one that can operate across the organization, orchestrating technology and skills to deliver departmental or strategic business outcomes. It’s a change that the majority of CIOs in the US positively embrace; with 70 percent saying the ability to be more innovative and creative is the biggest plus of their job, versus 69 percent 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 the US view mobility (87 percent, versus 73 percent globally), cloud (83 percent, versus 71 percent globally) and unified communications (79 percent, versus 72 percent globally) as technologies that can help 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, Gartner Fellow, 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.”

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.

For more information, visit

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:

Please contact Alan Ball, Head of Global PR.



Creativity and the modern CIO - US overview

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