By Daniel Hunter

Recent findings by the 451 Research Group show that decreasing expenditure, increasing profits and integrating cloud strategies whilst maintaining a secure IT environment are the biggest challenges that businesses are currently facing.

Piers Linney, Co-CEO of UK-based Cloud Service Provider Outsourcery and former star of BBC's Dragon's Den, argues that while these are perennial objectives for all successful businesses, the effective use of technology is now the most critical area determining success.

Piers Linney said: “CIOs are becoming business leaders in their own right. No longer just thinking of themselves as a support function, taking a ‘keep the lights on’ approach, they are fast becoming business leaders with an expertise in ICT. A regular complaint — and one that contributes to the increasing rise of shadow IT — is that some IT leaders still just don’t “get it” when it comes to understanding wider commercial needs.

"As many incidents have shown, failure to get the technology right will destroy any edge a company has against its competitors and this factor alone should encourage the rise of CIOs as leaders of their organisations.

“Companies rely heavily on their ICT infrastructure to manage business functions, which can often be a substantial expenditure to the budget of an organisation. Through the intelligent use of the IT budget, CIOs can seize the opportunity to introduce innovative IT resources, often supplied by new and innovative partners, that have the potential to achieve greater business productivity and security, all the while decreasing resource expenditure. With the increasing reliance on ICT and technology in the workplace, experience in delivering innovative solutions that directly impact the bottom line is now an essential attribute for any CEO to have."

Linney concludes: “Ultimately, considering the critical importance of IT and communications services to the running of an organisation today, more CIOs should take the responsibility of regularly communicating with their senior management team in order to identify how ICT can evolve with the direction of the company. Furthermore, with intelligent use of the IT budget to provide investment in innovative IT services, businesses will have the potential to effectively manage business issues and challenges, while reducing expenditure and accelerating productivity for future growth. Investing in the cloud is a prime example of this, particularly given the innovations we ae seeing in the Unified Communications market and the way it can help drive a more collaborative and mobile workforce. CIOs driving these sorts of changes in the workforce are using IT to solve commercial, rather than just technical, challenges.

“I firmly believe that it is only a matter of time until we regularly see the CIO taking the top spot,” Linney concludes.

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