23rd annual survey illuminates AI, security and key transformations elevating the role of the CIO 

Boston, Mass. – January 25, 2024 Foundry, the media, data, and martech division of IDG, Inc., and publisher of CIO.com, today released its 23rd annual State of the CIO survey. For more than two decades, the study has provided an understanding of how the role of the CIO continues to evolve in today’s business climate in order to define the CIO agenda for the year ahead.

This year’s study comes as organizations grapple with several converging trends reshaping the role of the CIO. Cybersecurity remains a persistent threat to business operations, while AI disrupts conventional business processes and gives rise to a new generation of business tools. Economic pressures compound the challenges, requiring leaders to automate tasks in order to work more efficiently even with less staff and resources. 

Against this backdrop, the role of the CIO is undergoing a profound transformation, with 85% of CIOs perceiving their position as evolving into that of a changemaker within the organization, increasingly leading business and technology initiatives. As businesses adapt to the evolving technology landscape, today’s CIO is not only addressing immediate IT challenges, but is also proactively driving innovation and navigating the complexities of a changing business landscape.

“For more than two decades, our study has provided an in-depth analysis of the tech and business initiatives IT leaders are currently focused on and where they expect to spend their time in the coming year. What we observe is that CIOs are increasingly being challenged to drive efficiency, enable productivity and modernize their tech stacks to adapt to changing business needs. The evolving trends underscore that the role of the CIO has never held greater significance for the overall success of the business, and with that we are seeing a collaborative partnership between IT and business leaders,” said Amy Bennett, Global Editor in Chief at Foundry.

Cybersecurity Remains a Real Risk

In the face of persistent threats marked by significant attacks on organizations of varying sizes in recent years, cybersecurity continues to be a top driver for technology investments. The crucial need to protect both corporate and customer data is the top reason CIOs expect their technology budgets to increase in 2024 (49%). It also continues to be the primary focus of CIOs daily endeavors. 

Cybersecurity’s importance to an organization isn’t simply preventing cyberattacks or safeguarding data, but has increasingly become a compliance concern. For instance, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission now requires public companies to disclose cyber incident details, and according to Foundry’s latest Security Priorities study, close to half of security executives say that the new SEC regulations are impacting how they handle cybersecurity initiatives at their organization. Key sectors like oil, gas, and healthcare also face industry-specific cyber regulations from both regulatory bodies and federal agencies. 

The Rise of AI

The AI book is evident, with 80% of CIOs anticipating their involvement in AI/machine learning will increase over the next year – a significant jump from the 55% reported in 2023.

Due to its perceived automation and efficiency benefits, CIOs say that AI additions are highly sought after across their organizations. Currently, 71% of CIOs are collaborating more closely with line-of-business teams on AI applications, reflecting a growing synergy between technology leadership and business functions. Notably, 62% of CIOs acknowledged that line of business executives are advocating for the adoption of AI-enabled products and solutions within  the organization. 

Because so many tools available are new and just emerging, CIOs report that researching and implementing AI-enabled products ranks among the top five priorities the CEO has for IT in the coming year and will be the third significant factor driving tech budgets in 2024 (43%), trailing only behind cybersecurity and rising costs of technology and services. 

The Economic Need for Efficiency

As organizations intensify their efforts to optimize resource utilization and achieve positive business outcomes, a pivotal strategy emerges—leveraging workflow and process automation. This approach proves indispensable in the quest for efficient growth, enabling IT decision-makers  to shift their focus from functional, repetitive tasks to strategic innovation. 

In fact, increasing operational efficiency and transforming existing business processes through automation and/or integration were the top two business initiatives CIOs expect will drive IT investments in 2024, and business process automation ranks among the top five strategically important technology initiatives, underscoring its significance for operational excellence and efficiency within organizations.

CIOs Will Control Bigger Budgets

Anticipating the impact of these trends, more than half (54%) of the CIOs surveyed expect their technology budgets to grow in 2024. What’s more, as corporations continue to redesign business processes, CIOs expect a significant shift in ownership of technology budgets. 

Looking ahead, over 70% of departmental tech platform budgets are projected to move under IT’s purview within the next 12 months. Notably, tech budgets from operations, executive-level administration, finance/accounting, and human resources were named key areas expected to lead this transformative shift.

Targeting CIO’s with effective marketing campaigns becomes increasingly important to ensure tech vendors are in the consideration set as decisions are made across the buying team.  Explore how to engage with Foundry’s CIO audience.

Collaboration is Key

In the current landscape, effective guidance and evaluation of technology purchase decisions hinge on a cohesive partnership between Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). This collaboration is evident in today’s leadership, with two-thirds of line-of-business representatives characterizing their CIO or top IT executive as either a strategic advisor (41%) or consultant (25%). 

CIOs agreed that collaboration is key, with nearly 4 out of 5 saying they have a strong educational partnership with the CEO and/or board of directors, as well as with their line-of-business colleagues. 

Obstacles Ahead

Despite the growing importance of the role of CIO, it is not without its challenges. One notable struggle faced by CIOs is the delicate balance between business innovation and operational excellence with 75% expressing difficulty in finding the right equilibrium. The challenges most often forcing CIOs to redirect their focus away from strategic and innovative tasks include staff and skills shortages (59%), changing business conditions (43%), and persistent security threats (43%).  

These multifaceted challenges underscore the intricate landscape that CIOs navigate, demanding a nuanced approach to addressing not only the strategic aspects of their role but also the operational intricacies that impact the organization’s overall effectiveness. As technology evolves and business dynamics shift, CIOs find themselves tasked with overcoming hurdles to ensure a harmonious integration of innovation and operational efficiency within their leadership responsibilities.


About Foundry’s State of the CIO Study

Foundry’s 23rd annual State of the CIO survey was fielded online with the objective of understanding the current parameters of the CIO role and how it may be changing over time. To be considered qualified, respondents must have identified themselves as the head of IT for their company or a division within it. Results are based on 875 qualified IT respondents, and 251 LOB responses. This study was fielded globally, with the response base being 41% North America, 19% EMEA, and 38% APAC. To learn more about this year’s State of the CIO, download the executive summary here

About Foundry, an IDG Inc. company  

Foundry helps companies bring their visions to reality through a combination of media, marketing technologies and proprietary data on a global scale. Our intent data and martech platforms are powered by data from an owned and operated ecosystem of global editorial brands, awards, and events, all engineered and integrated to drive marketing campaigns for technology companies. Foundry is dedicated to generating and innovating with data, driving demand for technology marketers with 38 offices in markets around the globe. Foundry is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group, Inc. (IDG), the world’s leading tech media, data, research and marketing services company.

To learn more about Foundry, visit www.foundryco.com

About CIO:

CIO focuses on attracting the highest concentration of enterprise CIOs and business technology executives with unparalleled peer insight and expertise on business strategy, innovation, and leadership. As organizations grow with digital transformation, CIO provides its readers with key insights on career development, including certifications, hiring practices and skills development. The award-winning CIO portfolio provides business technology leaders with analysis and insight on information technology trends and a keen understanding of IT’s role in achieving business goals. CIO is published by Foundry, an IDG Inc. company.