Does your organization have a Chief Digital Officer? Is it dedicating budget to IT training and tools? Has it committed to migrating to cloud?

These are the kinds of questions that Salesforce Research has asked as part of its 2016 “State of IT” report, for which it surveyed more than 2,200 IT leaders and CIOs from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. From its research emerges a picture of organizations with highly energized IT teams, many of which have embraced the need for digital business transformation and are moving full steam ahead. For the top performers among these survey respondents, long gone are the days when their IT teams were seen as having merely a support function—they now play an integral part of the digital innovation happening within the company at large.

The Rise of the CDO

Salesforce Research has isolated some key human resource manifestations of organizations in the age of digitalization:

  1. 60 percent of organizations polled have a Chief Digital Officer. That’s not just a CIO, mind you, it’s a CDO. Says the Salesforce Report, “CIOs now need to be visionaries for not just their departments, but the company as a whole. A recent role, the chief digital officer (CDO), has become a must-have in many organizations. CDOs usually have a marketing background, consumer knowledge, and a hyperfocus on digital trends. The role has become more prominent as employees and customers alike expect consumer-friendly tech.”
  2. 96 percent of organizations rating themselves as high-performing are ramping up their budgets for training and development of their technical staff. Take a look at the top 10 pain points listed by IT leaders surveyed, and you’ll see that four of them fall into the problem area of the mounting skills gap:
    • Budgetary constraints
    • Security issuesDigital-Business-Transformation-01.jpg
    • Emerging tech and trends make it difficult to keep skills current
    • Lack of skilled developers
    • Lack of resources for IT skills development
    • Organizational alignment
    • Lack of skilled administrators
    • Support of legacy systems
    • Upgrade management
    • Creating a connected customer experience
  3. More than half of the IT leaders listed the following three areas as their chief concerns when it comes to the talent shortage:
    • Data engineering: 56 percent
    • IT security: 52 percent
    • Application development: 51 percent


In addition to focusing on the skills gap, the Salesforce study also looked at technology shifts at work in the business landscape. Says the report, “Training and tools are a part of the approach to closing the skills gap—the other part is the technology itself. IT leaders are leveraging new tech solutions to manage the back end while freeing up their teams to focus on innovation and delivering business results.”

Mobile Apps, Cloud Migration, Cybersecurity Top of Mind

Here are some noteworthy technology results from the survey:

  1. Traditional operational concerns such as increasing worker productivity, increasing data visibility across the business, and automating business processes are still core to IT teams.
  2. At the same time, however, IT teams are zooming well beyond their traditional charter to help their organizations be more digitally agile and innovative. A whopping 79 percent are currently developing apps for their employees, customers, and partners. The top digitally driven technical areas for increased spending by IT teams are as follows:
    • Mobile applications: 68 percentDigital-Business-Transformation-02.jpg
    • Cloud migration (storage, compute): 68 percent
    • Cybersecurity, incident response: 68 percent
    • Customer-facing apps: 63 percent
    • Productivity applications: 62 percent
  3. “As app development becomes more rigorous and integrations become more complex,” says the survey, “companies are using the cloud to support fast-paced development.” Cloud migration spurs faster innovation by relieving large staffing needs. Data management, operating system development, and even design can be offloaded as a result of cloud services. Nearly two-thirds of companies polled that operate in the cloud rate their ability to digitally scale as above average.
  4. Top-performing IT teams are relying on cloud services to bolster security; 72 percent of high performers trust storing core infrastructure data on a public cloud.


Get the complete 2016 Salesforce Research “State of IT” report here. The 39-page document offers plenty of graphs and charts to show where IT leaders’ heads are at regarding app deployment, IT spending, the skills gap and training, pain points and priorities, and how they rate their own tech leadership and practice. It is clear from this report that leaders are not running away from making innovation a business differentiator.

Would you say that digital business transformation has arrived at your place of employment? Let us know in the Comments below where you see real innovation and disruption going on. Or maybe you are frustrated by a sluggish rate of progress. What’s holding your organization back? Sound off below!



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Gary Pfitzer is a content manager at Learning@Cisco, focused on bringing various aspects of today's IT journey to light through business papers, blogging, customer success stories, and other writing.