"Increased business involvement is a positive trend as long as it does not lead to complete exclusion of the IT function," Christ says. "IT shops that are seen as value-added are rarely left out of the decision. The IT shop that is viewed as enabling is usually consulted, while the IT shop that is an inhibitor often faces the end-run."
Finding the talent
One of the biggest barriers to IT innovation is talent. On the bright side, the jobs picture is healthy.
Seventeen percent of CIOs said they plan to expand their IT departments in the first quarter of 2013, which is nearly double the number (9%) who were planning increases in the fourth quarter of 2012, reports Robert Half Technology.
Companies have resumed hiring and expanding their workforces as the economy has shown signs of improving, but the mood remains one of cautious optimism, says Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing specialist Modis.
The biggest issue is how the tax burden for companies might change this year. But that uncertainty, while a concern, so far isn't halting hiring. "Companies need to continue to hire. There's still a backlog," Cullen says.
Finding the talent remains a challenge, however. More than half (63%) of the CIOs polled by Robert Half said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today. The skill sets in greatest demand are: database management, cited by 48% of CIOs, network administration (47%), and web development/website design (33%).
"Hiring has been a challenge [in 2012], especially in virtualization, SAN and programming," says Kaufman of Supplies Network. "We focus on hiring self-motivated employees who are strong problem solvers. If they're not quite where we want them to be technically, we absolutely will invest in training to get the right person prepared for the job," Kaufman says.
The hiring picture is also complicated by the imperative to transform IT. In the search for candidates, business acumen has become as important as technical skills.
Conklin of Christus Health understands firsthand the pressure to find both business-savvy and technically strong IT pros. "Our hiring challenges are at two extremes," says Conklin, who oversees IT at the Dallas-based healthcare provider, which runs more than 60 hospitals and long-term care facilities and 175 clinics and outpatient centers in the U.S. and Mexico.