Shadow IT allowing public sector CIOs to be more creative


According to a new study from BT, ‘Art of Connecting: creativity and the modern CIO‘, chief information officers (CIOs) in the public sector have an unprecedented opportunity to take a leading role in their organisations, thanks in part to the rise of “shadow IT”.

The study was based on a survey of almost 1,000 senior IT decision makers in eight regions and six sectors worldwide.  “Shadow IT” is the name given to the growing practice of departments, such as finance or marketing, buying their own IT solutions.  The practice is now common in the public sector, with 69% of CIOs in the sector seeing it within their organisations, compared with 76% globally.  On average, shadow IT now accounts for 20% of public sector organisations IT spend, compared with an international  average of 25%.

The growing confidence of departments in buying their own IT solutions is shifting the CIO’s focus away from hands-on support to a more strategic role centred on advice, governance and security.  Indeed, CIOs in the public sector are now spending 18% more time and substantial additional budget on security as a result of shadow IT, versus a global average of 20%. Despite worries about a loss of control and sizeable reductions to their overall budgets, the changes driven by shadow IT give CIOs a unique opportunity to evolve their role.

Luis Alvarez, chief executive officer, BT Global Services, said: “CIOs are perfectly placed to nurture creative uses of technology throughout their organisations while keeping a strategic view.  Indeed, our research shows that the board expects nothing less.”

Craig Charlton, chief information officer, De Beers, said: “Creativity comes from really understanding your business issues, really understanding technology and being able to put those two things together. It’s the fusion of a pressing business problem with a good command of what technology can do that leads to great ideas. And without creativity, you will end up with a role focused on transactional services and traditional IT, rather than looking to the future.”

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