Survey: CIOs see IT moving from cost center to trust center, even as challenges abound

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Chief Information Officers (CIOs) increasingly see IT moving from a
‘cost center’ to a ‘trust center’ – even as the challenges they face
abound, according to the 2019
CIO Survey
from Grant Thornton LLP in partnership with the
Technology Business Management (TBM) Council.

CIOs who participated in the survey reported that “creating and driving
an IT strategy that aligns with overall business/agency objectives” is
one of their top priorities – second only to “ensuring that IT systems
comply with security and regulatory requirements.”

This focus on strategy is also evident in how CIOs see the institutional
role of their IT teams. Of those surveyed:

  • Eighty-one percent believe “IT drives innovation or modernization
  • Seventy-nine percent think “IT has a voice in business/agency strategy
    and strategic initiatives.”
  • Sixty-six percent of CIOs say their performance should be measured
    based on “successful execution against strategy and plans.”

“The days of the CIO serving strictly as an IT operator are over,” said
LaVerne H. Council, national managing principal for Enterprise
Technology Strategy and Innovation at Grant Thornton. “CIOs see
themselves as trusted business partners, but the road ahead is not an
easy one. CIOs should articulate the value of IT spend in the same terms
measured by their business partners.”

Demonstrating value will only grow harder in the face of the challenges
that CIOs identified in the survey. Chief among these is “conflicting
priorities among stakeholders” – followed by “recruiting and retaining
talent,” “aligning IT with business goals,” “articulating the value of
IT spend,” and “stakeholders’ resistance to change.”

The road to becoming a trusted business partner

The clearest path forward for CIOs to become trusted business partners
is to demonstrate that they can control costs and communicate IT value
in a way that resonates with the business. Through technology business
management (TBM), for example, leaders can help their C-suite peers
understand how IT brings value to their organization.

“With TBM, CIOs and their teams use a data-driven financial framework to
evaluate investment decisions using a common language that aligns IT
spend to business value,” said Todd Tucker, vice president and general
manager of the TBM
. “With this information, organizations can enable
prioritization, optimize business costs and accelerate decision-making.
In fact, 74 percent of survey respondents identified ‘the ability to
shift spending to innovation or growth as the most important benefit of

Shifting priorities

Finally, CIOs are shifting their priorities to meet emerging needs and
address critical gaps, most notably:

  • Eighty-five percent are investing in automation software deployments
    over the next two years.
  • Eighty-three percent have increased spending on cybersecurity.
  • Only 30 percent are currently using data to “move from information to
  • They believe the top barriers to addressing cybersecurity threats are
    “the increasing sophistication of threats,” “emerging technologies,”
    and “retaining top-tier talent.”
  • They think artificial intelligence will be the most impactful area of
    IT over the next three to five years.

Grant Thornton and the TBM Council conducted the survey in fall 2018,
based on responses from IT leaders in both commercial businesses and the
public sector.

For additional findings from the 2019 CIO Survey, visit

About Technology Business Management (TBM) Council

The TBM Council is a nonprofit organization established by Apptio, and
made up of 8,500 leading technology and finance executives from around
the world. The Council is governed by an independent board of business
technology leaders from a diverse group of the world’s most innovative
companies like Aflac, State Farm, Tyson, Intuit, First American and
more. The Council is focused on developing a definitive framework for
managing the business of IT by establishing standards and providing
ongoing collaboration and education opportunities. For more information,
please visit

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant
Thornton LLP
(Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant
Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of
independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has
revenues in excess of $1.8 billion and operates 58 offices, works with a
broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government
agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.

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of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms
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