Women CIOs Forecast Greater IT Budget Increases


Gartner Inc., Contributor

August 24, 2015

By Tina Nunno
Gartner, Inc.

When we surveyed 2,810 global CIOs,* both males and females ranked their top priorities as analytics, infrastructure and data center, cloud, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and mobile technologies. However, the genders differed on how much they anticipate their budgets will increase in 2015. Here, female CIOs expect to increase their budgets by 2.4 percent in 2015, whereas male CIOs report average increases of just 0.8 percent. The difference may be attributed to a difference in how they make the business case for funding.

This was the second year in a row that the women in our survey expected greater budget increases than the men. While it’s not entirely clear why this difference exists, additional survey data indicates that women consistently use different metrics than their male counterparts to report value and benefits, and the metrics vary based on their reporting structure.

Female CIOs get increases regardless of reporting structure
According to the data, reporting structure impacts the budgets of male CIOs more significantly and adversely than female CIOs. When male CIOs report to the CEO, they report a significant budget increase (2.8 percent) while the women receive slightly less (2.2 percent), but their budgets remain essentially flat in all other reporting relationships with the exception of the COO reporting where a slight negative budget trend appears.

Female CIOs expect to receive budget increases regardless of reporting line, and most significantly when reporting to the CFO (3.2 percent) and in the “other” category at 4.2 percent. According to the survey, the most common titles included in the “other” category included CIO/enterprise CIO (denoting that the survey respondent was a business unit CIO reporting to the enterprise CIO), director/executive director, vice president, general manager and chief administrative officer (CAO) in that order of frequency. Several of these titles are CEO equivalents, and therefore the budget increase is consistent with the CEO numbers.

Male and female CIOs apply value metrics differently
The use of project value metrics is critically important to many enterprises as it forms the basis for making prioritization and investment decisions. The gender data reveals several interesting variations. First, female CIOs are 7% more likely to use strategic value as a project value metric than their male counterparts (77% vs. 70%). Moreover, there are interesting variations when the gender data is compared to reporting lines. When the CIO reports to the CEO, women’s use of strategic value as a metric rises to 82%, while for men it moves to 71%, and the gap becomes more striking.

When the CIO reports to the CEO, 51% of women, compared with 37% of men, use net present value (NPV). Similarly, more women report using ROI, compared with men (77% vs. 67%), when reporting to the CEO. CEOs are most often concerned with positive cash flow, associated with the NPV metric, and yield on investments, which is more closely associated with ROI. While this indicates that women adapt more readily to CEO priorities, it may be a signal that male CIOs would benefit from adjusting their metrics more when reporting to CEOs.

One of the most extreme differences in the metrics data appears when the CIO reports to the COO. In this situation, only 12% of female CIOs report using NPV, compared with 42% of the male CIOs, a 30% differential. Their use of ROI becomes virtually identical at 65% vs. 66% for female and male CIOs, respectively. COOs are most often interested in productivity and efficiency of operations. ROI provides that insight with initial set-up costs and projected incremental expenses and costs. Women CIOs may be tailoring their metrics and messaging more radically by leaving out NPV as a metric if they believe the COO to whom they report is not interested in it.

Male CIOs tell a more CFO-centric story
Ultimately, male CIOs’ use of value metrics varies little across reporting structure. It is interesting to note that the project value metrics are most similar when men and women report to the CFO. In this situation, there is the least variation in the gender results. This reveals the possibility that male CIOs approach value metrics as though they report to the CFO, even when they are reporting elsewhere. Male CIOs must examine whether they are being adaptable enough in their metrics and messaging to suit their reporting structure.

The data shows that both reporting relationship and gender impact the metrics that CIOs use to make prioritization decisions, as well as how they communicate value to the enterprise. Both CIOs and those to whom they report should examine the metrics they use and the gender and organizational dynamics that determine their selection and use.

Give the CEO more insight
Additionally, 32 percent of female CIOs agree that there is a shift from backward-looking reporting to forward-looking analytics, and this compared with 22 percent for male CIOs. This difference becomes more extreme when the CIO reports to the CEO, when the percentages become 42 percent and 23 percent for female and male CIOs, respectively. Predictive data is foundational to strategic outlooks and discussions, and therefore a high priority for many CEOs.

No ideal IT budget number
It is important to note that increasing the IT budget is not a CIO objective in and of itself. However, as executives, both male and female CIOs must have the ability to successfully cut IT costs when appropriate, and convincingly make the case for additional funding when additional investment is appropriate to address the enterprise IT needs. Male and female CIOs must review their use of value metrics and how they position the IT budget to ensure that they can appropriately influence executive leadership in effective IT financial management.

*CIOs responding to the worldwide Gartner CIO Agenda survey represented more than $397 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries. Females totaled 13.6 percent of the respondents.

Tina Nunno, vice president and Gartner Fellow, will examine CIO leadership issues at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015, October 4-8 in Orlando, Florida.


This article was written by Gartner Inc. from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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