CIO Executive Council Members Reveal Critical IT Staffing Needs, Deficiencies

FRAMINGHAM, MA – MARCH 10, 2005 – A new survey of chief information officers (CIOs) conducted by the CIO Executive Council(TM) (founded by IDG's CXO Media Inc. and CIO magazine) reveals that CIOs believe leadership is a critical yet lacking skill for today's information technology (IT) workforce. The survey's 303 CIO respondents widely agree that leadership skills are essential at the both the senior management (87%) and middle management (78%) levels. However, a significant number of CIOs cite leadership as a problem area for their current senior management (43%) and middle management (47%).

According to Barb Kunkel, CIO of Nixon Peabody LLP and chair of the CIO Executive Council's IT Staffing Task Force, "The world of information technology is changing and CIOs like me are looking for workers who will take initiative, think strategically and lead the business in a positive direction. It's time to finally disband the myth that IT is largely a support function. In order for the U.S. to remain competitive in the global marketplace, what we need are more cracker-jack thinkers and leaders."

Interestingly, given the lack of confidence in staff leadership, only half (51%) of the CIOs surveyed report having a succession plan in place. Among these respondents, 49% are extremely or very confident with their plan, while 45% are somewhat confident.

In addition to leadership, "problem solving skills" (85%) and "understanding of business dynamics" (83%) also rank in the top three critical skill sets for senior IT management, with CIOs predicting these skills to remain or become even more important in the next three years. The three skills most often lacking in current senior IT management staff and recent applicants/hires are the aforementioned leadership skills (43%), followed by understanding of business dynamics (41%), and finance knowledge/experience (36%).

For middle IT management, the most critical skills needs are "communication skills" (84%) and "project management" (71%), as well as the aforementioned leadership skills (78%). However, CIOs predict this will change in the next three years with project management becoming less critical (44%) and VoIP proficiency (63%) becoming the more critical skill. Unfortunately, 51% of CIOs cite VoIP proficiency as a lacking skill, in addition to the previously mentioned leadership skills (47%), project management (31%) and knowledge of wireless technologies (31%).

Skills ranking lowest on the priority scale for senior management are marketing (29%), understanding of supply chain (22%) and Six Sigma training (14%). For middle management, the lowest ranking priorities are multicultural background, (7%), ability to speak more than one language (5%) and knowledge of international finance (4%). (NOTE: Given the low emphasis on international business skills, it's interesting that on average, findings show offshore outsourcing accounts for 4% of today's IT staffing and is expected to increase to 8% in the next three years.)

Results of the CIO Executive Council's first IT Staffing Survey also reveal CIOs' recommendations to higher education for producing more qualified candidates, as well as their workplace hiring strategies.

CIOs on Higher Education:

CIOs are looking to higher education to improve the supply chain of IT talent in the U.S. In reviewing a list of program offerings, marketing strategies and teaching philosophies that might better prepare college graduates for careers in IT, the majority of CIOs place the most value in the following:

78% Double majors combining computer science/technology and business

73% More professors specifically trained/qualified in IT

63% Required internships

58% Internships with mostly IT responsibilities

55% More emphasis on business curriculum

52% More majors focused on IT

The programs CIOs regard as less effective include:

48% Highlighting technology programs in recruitment collateral

39% Internships with mostly business responsibilities

35% Technology certification training

29% More emphasis on globalization

15% Study abroad

NOTE: Survey results show only 57% of current IT employees and 66% of recent hires (within the past three months) hold bachelor's degrees.

According to Martha Heller, Managing Director of the CIO Executive Council, "The Council is eager to work in partnership with higher education and other stakeholders who are vested in protecting the nation's technology leadership through improved IT education and workforce programs."

CIOs on How to Get Hired in the IT Workforce:

On average, CIOs promote from within for senior IT management positions more often than they hire externally: 57% of candidates are promoted from within vs. 43% of candidates results from external hires (on average).

However, for middle management and IT staff, CIOs expect to face problems over the next three years finding information/security managers (42%), IS/IT project managers (36%), database managers (35%), and enterprise architect managers (33%).

CIOs also expect to see a shift in the importance of technical and business skills. Currently, the majority of CIOs (52%) say technical skills are most important vs. the 41% who say technical and business skills are equally weighted. However, in the three years, 47% predict IT and business skills will be given equal weight vs. 43% predicting technical skills as the most important future talent. Only 10% believe business skills alone will be given the most importance.

When evaluating candidates and making IT hiring decisions, CIOs are looking for communication skills (93%), followed by an understanding of the Internet/Web (66%) and number of years of IT experience (64%). Factors least important in the hiring process include multicultural background (10%), ability to speak more than one language (7%) and knowledge of international finance (4%).

According to Kunkel, "Information technology is integral to the success of every company and CIOs are looking for employees who can propel that message and make that success happen."


The CIO Executive Council IT Staffing Study was conducted online between January 25, 2005 and February 9, 2005 among CIOs who are members of the CIO Executive Council or who qualify for Council membership, as well as qualified subscribers to CIO magazine. (NOTE: All Council members must serve as the senior-most IT executive in their organization and have purchase authority for their organization's information technology products and services, as well as strategic oversight of the IT function.) The survey was commissioned by the Council's IT Staffing Task Force to identify critical staffing needs, deficiencies and current gaps in IT-preparation education.

An invitation including a unique link to the survey was sent via email to each qualified CIO. The invitation yielded 303 completed surveys and, at a 95% confidence level, the margin of error for this sample size is +/- 5.6 percent.

For a copy of the executive summary of the CIO Executive Council IT Staffing Survey, please contact Karen Fogerty at 508.935.4091 or


Launched in 1987, CIO magazine addresses issues vital to the success of chief information officers (CIOs) worldwide. The CIO portfolio includes a companion website ( ), CIO Executive Programs and the CIO Executive Council. CIO properties provide technology and business leaders with analysis and insight on information technology trends and a keen understanding of IT's role in achieving business goals. The U.S. edition of the magazine and website are recipients of 140 awards to date, including two Grand Neals from the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards and two Magazine of the Year awards from the National Society of Business Publication Editors. CIO magazine is published in more than a dozen countries, including Australia, Canada, China, France and Germany. CIO Executive Programs-a series of face-to-face conferences including CIO Perspectives(R) and the CIO 100 Awards & Symposium(TM)-provide educational and networking opportunities for pre-qualified corporate and government leaders. The CIO Executive Council is a professional organization of CIOs created to achieve lasting change in critical industry, academic, media and governmental groups. CIO magazine,, and CIO Executive Programs, and the CIO Executive Council are produced by International Data Group's award-winning business unit: CXO Media Inc.


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