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By Vince DeLuca, CEO, Logicalis US

Logicalis has just released the results of its fifth annual Global CIO Survey.  The survey, which polled 890 CIOs and IT directors from mid-market organizations in 23 countries, breaks down CIO priorities into three important business themes – simplify, secure and engage – as it looks at the road IT professionals are traveling as they work to help their organizations become digitally enabled.  One of the most important takeaways from this year’s report is that a massive infrastructure overhaul must be coupled with culture change for organizations to truly unlock the benefits of digital transformation.

Digital Ambition vs. Digital Reality

The survey tells a story of real digital ambition among CIOs around the globe, but also one of limited progress in delivering digital transformation.  In fact, only five percent of respondents call their organizations “digital innovators” right now, although 49 percent characterize their companies as part of an early majority of digital adopters.

That’s not a significant change from last years’ figures, and the reality is that most CIOs see their organizations as partially digitally enabled at best.

It’s important to note, however, that CIOs are realistic about the challenges. They know what the barriers to digital transformation are, and it is their ambitious plan to overcome those barriers in a way that satisfies their “simplify, secure and engage” mantra.


Nearly half (44 percent) of respondents say complex legacy technology is the chief barrier to digital transformation in their organizations. In simple terms, the job of maintaining and managing those complex legacy environments in the face of growing security threats and new business demands for open architecture is huge.  So, legacy complexity doesn’t just slow down or prevent digital projects, it also prevents a refocusing on higher level, strategic activities like digital transformation.

CIOs clearly understand the urgent need to simplify their existing systems. More than half (51 percent) say they plan to adapt or replace existing infrastructure as a means of accelerating digital transformation.  As a result, it’s not hard to imagine CIOs making greater use of cloud services and third-party support as a means of both simplifying those systems and handing off some of the management burden associated with them.


It’s no great surprise to see security high on CIOs’ agendas and ransomware topping their list of concerns given the nature of the cyberthreat landscape today. In fact, according to 71 percent of the CIOs surveyed, ransomware is their biggest threat.

More surprising though, is the fact that one in three CIOs admit security concerns have led to the curtailment or cancellation of IT projects, a fact that significantly impacts digital transformation.

With that in mind, many CIOs (31 percent) see increased security investments as crucial to digital transformation – and not just to weathering the next cyberthreat storm.

This means CIOs’ security focus will drive an increased demand for services like Cisco Umbrella as their organizations adopt multi-layered security solutions capable of defending against an ever-evolving array of cyber threats.


Perhaps most interesting, the surveyed revealed that CIOs see organizational culture as a key barrier to digital transformation.  That is, legacy technology brings with it a legacy relationship between business and technology, a “separateness” that is incompatible with a digital model that puts technology at the heart of every aspect of the business.

In response, CIOs want to engage with line of business (LOB) colleagues to drive culture change.  They want to be the digital ambassadors who create a new relationship between business and technology and who foster an environment in which digital transformation can thrive.

Analytics offers a case in point.  Back in 2015, 63 percent of CIOs ranked analytics as “very important” or “critical” to driving business innovation. Now, two years later, the same barriers to delivering those benefits remain complex systems and siloed data, as well as business engagement; the lack of a clear direction from the business as to what is required from analytics is still an issue for 41 percent of CIOs.

Organizations are responding to this, however. This year, 54 percent of CIOs say they are working with LOB colleagues to clarify requirements and 38 percent are setting up workgroups to unravel complexity.

Those plans to tackle analytics suggest that CIOs are successfully adapting to a changing environment for business IT, an issue we first highlighted in 2015. The big question is whether they will be successful in replicating the approach as they seek to unlock the benefits of wider digital transformation.

The CIOs that are successful in tackling these three big issues will likely be those engaging outside help.   The majority still spend between 60 percent and 80 percent of their time on day-to-day IT management – an issue that, in itself, is a barrier to change.

That’s partly because so much IT remains in house.  Only a quarter of the CIOs surveyed outsource 50 percent or more of their IT today, a situation that must surely change quickly if CIOs are to free themselves from everyday management tasks to become digital change makers rather than simply change managers.

About the Research

All figures were drawn from a survey of 890 CIOs and IT directors from mid-market organizations in 23 countries spanning Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Want to learn more? Download a copy of Logicalis’ new Global CIO Survey and access copies of Logicalis’ four previous annual reports. Then, hear Logicalis US CEO Vince DeLuca discuss the IT transformation journey in this SmartPros WatchIT video. Where does your organization stand on the road to digital transformation? Take our two-minute quiz to find out: