Gartner Executive Programs Worldwide Survey of More Than 2,000 CIOs Identifies Cloud Computing as Top Technology Priority for CIOs in 2011

According to Mark McDonald, group vice president and head of research for Gartner Executive Programs

CIOs and IT have been boxed in between modest budget growth and growing legacy requirements. New lighter-weight technologies – such as cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), and social networks -and IT models enable the CIO to redefine IT, giving it a greater focus on growth and strategic impact. These are two things that are missing from many organizations.

Also surprising is the expected rate of adoption

CIOs expect to adopt new cloud services much faster than originally expected. Currently, 3 percent of CIOs have the majority of IT running in the cloud or on SaaS technologies, but over the next four years CIOs expect this number to increase to 43 percent.

i.e. 15x growth in 4 years.

Gartner’s survey also shows that CIO’s are acutely feeling the pressure to fix the perception that IT is simply an enabler rather than a key driver of business growth and a vital constituent to an organization’s future.

In other words Nicholas Carr’s 2003 HBS article IT Doesn’t Matter has proved to be at least partially true despite all the opposing bluster. Much of that bluster came from the vendor community which is hardly surprising: the thought of a meme like that catching on was beyond the pale for the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and HP, although IBM was tellingly silent on the matter. Many of these same vendors are now facing classic “innovator’s dilemma” issues with cloud computing. That is, they are trying to jump on the bandwagon without cannibalizing too much of their existing business — and doing it before it’s too late.

Cloud computing has potential to help CIOs in the areas of value (resulting from the economy of scale of multi-tenant cloud services and the reduction in on-premise equipment) and agility (no in-house installation or implementation required) but it may also reduce the differentiation that organizations can achieve through IT, especially when deploying Saas products that are also available to their competitors.

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