While uncertainty is making business and IT planning difficult for many organisations, evidence suggests digital strategies have infiltrated businesses across Australia at an entirely new level.

According to the 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, the proportion of organisations surveyed that have enterprise-wide digital strategies increased 21 per cent in just two years, and those organisations with a Chief Digital Officer have increased 40 per cent over last year.

Despite two-thirds (62 per cent) of organisations adapting their technology strategy because of unprecedented global political and economic uncertainty, 93 per cent are maintaining or ramping up investment in innovation, including in digital labour. More than half (57 per cent) are investing in more nimble technology platforms to help their organisation innovate and adapt.

Now in its 19th year, the survey of 4,498 CIOs and technology leaders (174 based in Australia) was conducted between December 19, 2016 and April 3, 2017, across 86 countries.

“Making a success of technology is becoming increasingly complex,” said Bridget Gray, Managing Director Harvey Nash Australia.

“A new breed of digital innovators are evolving who are turning uncertainty into opportunity. The IT leaders who will succeed are the ones who can deal with this ambiguity, working across multi discipline teams to a common goal. At the same time they also need to have an firm control of the infrastructure, ensuring the organisation is secure and adaptable for the future. It’s a tough job, but the CIOs who are getting this balance right are becoming increasingly important to their organisation.”

The report found Australian CIO influence isn’t growing as quickly as their global counterparts. In Australia, 59 per cent of CIOs say the role is getting more strategic, less than the global average of 71 per cent. Moreover, Australian CIOs who are “very fulfilled” in their role is at a three-year low – falling from 41 per cent in 2015 to 31 per cent this year. That said, 79 per cent per cent of CIOs joined a board meeting in the past 12 months.

Cyber Security

Cyber security vulnerability is at an all-time high, with a third of IT leaders (31 per cent) reporting their organisation had been subject to a major cyber-attack in the past 24 months – a 107 per cent increase from 2014.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) say they are “very well” prepared to respond to these attacks, down from 29 per cent in 2016. Despite very visible headline-grabbing attacks such as the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, the biggest jump in threats comes from insider attacks, increasing from 30 per cent to 54 per cent over last year.

Big data/analytics remains the most in-demand skill

While the fastest growing demand for a technology skill this year security and resilience, big data/analytics remained the most in-demand skill at 48 per cent, up 30 per cent over last year.

Complex IT projects – increase risk of failure monumentally

Two thirds (61 per cent) of CIOs say IT projects are more complex than they were five years ago, and over-optimistic expectations (49 per cent), poor governance or project management (36 per cent), and unclear objectives (36 per cent) are the main reasons IT projects fail. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of CIOs say that a lack of project talent is the cause of project failure, but project management skills are absent from the CIOs top list of technology skills needed in 2017, dropping a staggering 28 per cent in one year.

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