CIOs keep their jobs for on average just over three years, according to research just out. The study, by Populus and commissioned by EDS, researched 50 CIOs at FTSE 350 companies to look at how long CIOs stay in their positions and the implications for the IT transformation projects that they commission.
The research shows that CIOs stay in position for an average of just over three years (38 months), but increasingly complex IT transformation projects take far longer to deliver results. EDS said CIOs need to deliver results during their tenure if they are to be seen to be successful, which some might consider to be stating the obvious.
But the study also found that 82% of CIOs have a technology background, and that the majority are recruited from outside of the business. Almost all had some IT experience prior to becoming CIO, which is also hardly surprising, while previous roles included other senior IT positions, management roles, management consultancy and posts in engineering and finance.
Against this backdrop, EDS recommended that any IT project needs to be commissioned within 100 days of a CIO being appointed. With 80% of IT projects running over time, EDS said CIOs are coming under more pressure to deliver results, and fast.
It also noted that CIOs are caught in what it called the value trap, with 80% of their budget spent on keeping current systems alive, leaving only 20% to spend on projects that make a demonstrable difference. EDS has written a white paper about the study.
While these findings are perhaps not entirely unexpected, EDS makes some salient points. With the average tenure of a typical CIO being just three years, they do need to work fast to make a real difference to the business in their short time at the firm. And with only around 20% of their IT budget to spend on such projects (the other 80% estimated to go on maintaining current systems) they do need to pick their projects wisely.
Or as some might suggest, projects should be big enough to make a real and demonstrable impact on the business, but not so big that they have no hope of being completed within three years. That approach may not always work to an enterprise’s advantage of course, but with CIOs typically not lasting more than three years that would seem to be the reality of the current situation, and a sensible strategy for CIOs themselves if they are to have a few successful projects on their CV when they move on to their next position.