CIOs reassess their roles in the face of changing business requirements

London, 7th March

A Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Colt Technology Services reveals that a lack of engagement between IT and the customer-facing business departments is holding back the drive for business transformation and competitive advantage. With enterprises under pressure to make workforces more efficient, deliver real-time customer data and meet the demand for consumerisation of IT, organisations are increasingly looking to IT to develop and defend competitive advantage. However, less than half of CIOs say that they frequently or often collaborate with marketing (43%) and sales (30%) functions, even though these functions are increasingly purchasing their own IT services and infrastructure. In comparison, 79% of CIOs frequently collaborate with finance.

The study states: “Enterprises require access to the best market information, often in real time, regarding customer behaviour, competitor activity and sales results… As IT increasingly needs to go to lines of business to get funding for specific IT projects, lines of business need to understand in more detail what their money is spent on and why… The shorter this transition process is, the lower the risk to client-facing activities will be…”

The research, based on 400 CIO interviews across Europe, investigates the nature of relationships between IT and the lines of business. While 57% of European CIOs acknowledge that they only rarely or sometimes collaborate with the marketing function, the infrequency of collaboration between departments is more significant across Switzerland (72%), Belgium (70%) and the UK (68%). Despite this, more than half (56%) of the CIOs surveyed acknowledge that the heightened need to become more familiar with lines-of-business is a challenge that they need to address.

As organisations adopt new technologies and become more data-driven, sales and marketing teams are increasingly purchasing their own IT services which results in lower direct communication between these departments and IT. The study shows that over 60% of CIOs see other departments buying their own (shadow) IT as a threat to their own roles and responsibilities, rising to 82% amongst respondents in France. This is particularly worrying as half of CIOs still think that business executives do not appreciate what can or cannot be done with technology to drive business goals.

Stuart Walters, IT Director at Taylor Wessing commented on the results of the findings: “First and foremost the CIO needs to understand the lines of business in their own organisation and how IT can assist with the deliver and optimisation of them. This approach enables myself and my peers to not only deliver value into the business, but also by working closer with sales and marketing functions, deliver value into the organisations of our customers.”

Julie O’Hara, VP of Services and Solutions, Colt said: “The future CIO has a central role to play in transforming business performance. As CIOs and sales and marketing departments work more closely together, the CIO will become more familiar with the business strategy and consequently more able to explain the benefits of IT to the business in terms of the value to the end customer.

“Within the marketplace, we see the CIO who understands how lines of business operate and interact with each other, as well as the strategic objectives of their customers and suppliers, emerging as a driver of business transformation and changing the IT department into a service provider to the enterprise. This enables the whole organisation to deliver superior customer experience and improved brand differentiation.”

The findings come from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Colt, VMware and Cisco entitled “Bridging The Gap Between Technology And Business Needs”, January 2013.

According to Gavin Jackson, EMEA Director for Cloud Services and Partners of VMware; “At no other time in the history of IT has the promise of technology been so aligned with business potential. This carries significant implications for today’s CIO, who has to deliver innovation within the context of the business bottom line. Those CIOs that are less business-minded are finding their authority, once a certainty, is now something to justify and prove.”

Jeremy Bevan, Head of EMEAR Marketing, Cisco commented “As industries evolve and technology gains prominence for all lines of business, the CIO and their IT groups are positioned to become key enablers with increasing strategic value. With the scope to enhance operational performance and make a profound impact on the business, IT-enabled leaders will be key to realising business potential.”

To receive a copy of the study, you can register at or join us for an exclusive webinar entitled Bridging The Gap Between Technology And Business Needs where guest speaker Dan Bieler , principal analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. will discuss the results of the research.

Other stats from the research include:

  • 74% say the biggest challenge is the lack of strategic and financial support from the board for lack of infrastructure upgrades, rising to 84% in Italy
  • Just under two thirds of European CIOs see accountability for IT investment resting within the business units as a threat to their role.
  • CIOs are increasingly adopting less formal engagement processes with the business to reflect the businesses preferred approach to collaboration
  • CIOs rate providing an improved service to customers (80%) and a more responsive service to lines of business (74%) as more important considerations than cost control when choosing managed services providers

About the study

The study was commissioned by Colt, VMware and Cisco and conducted by Forrester Consulting. 400 CIOs across Europe completed online interviews during October and November 2012. The survey was then further supplemented by 15 in depth interviews with European CIOs, COOs and CFOs between October and December 2012.

About Colt

Colt is the information delivery platform, enabling its customers to deliver, share, process and store their vital business information. An established leader in delivering integrated computing and network services to major organisations, midsized businesses and wholesale customers, Colt operates a 22-country, 43,000km network that includes metropolitan area networks in 39 major European cities with direct fibre connections into 19,000 buildings and 20 carrier neutral Colt data centres.

In 2010, the Colt Data Centre Services business was launched to deliver innovative high quality data centre solutions at a Colt or customer site. Our Innovative data centres are rapid to deploy, flexible and highly efficient.

In addition to its direct sales capability, Colt has four indirect channels to market; Agent, Franchise, Distributor and Wholesale which includes Carriers, Service Providers, VARs and Voice Resellers.

Colt is listed on the London Stock Exchange (COLT).

Press contacts

Colt, François d’Essertaux
DDI: +44(0)20 7863 2953
Mobile: +44 (0) 7538 095 485
Email: [email protected]

Weber Shandwick, Tim Focas
DDI: +44 (0)207 067 0532
Mobile : +44 (0)783 5517 004
Email: [email protected]

What's your goal today?

1. Are you on the Colt IQ network?

Our network connects over 31,000 buildings worldwide powering companies such as Hitachi, Atos, Forbes, Arthur D Little, Brussels Airlines and thousands of others. Find out if you're Colt connected now.

2. Learn about digital infrastructure

We've written thousands of guides and white papers, regularly publish content on our blog and host regular events on everything from enterprise network connectivity, to cloud, digital transformation and the hybrid workforce.

3. Join our team

To learn more about joining our team of over 5000 people around the world, and to browse our current open roles visit