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Leadership / Digital Transformation

Cautious CIOs risk hampering innovation

Over-cautious CIOs are hampering innovation, according to new research from Fujitsu Technology Solutions.

The report claims that the recession is fuelling a climate of caution, with CIOs and IT directors preferring to wait for a technology to become widespread before adopting it. Just one in 10 respondents admitted to taking an aggressive, early adopter approach to new technologies.

The majority of respondents labelled themselves technology followers and over half claimed they would not adopt a technology until it had proven successful in other installations. One in three (32%) said that a technology would have to be industry standard before they would consider adopting it in their own organisation.

One respondent, a CIO at a FTSE 350 retail company, said: “The larger, more stable companies cannot afford to be innovators as they might lose out competitively if implementations go wrong. Being a follower means that you can adopt the technologies with the knowledge that they are proven and being used by your competitors. IT heads are reluctant to be major innovators for fear of losing their jobs if it all goes wrong.”

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The results of the survey suggest that innovation is taking a back seat as 79% of IT bosses admitted that they are focusing on cutting costs while 38% said that they are coming under increasing pressure to justify costs.

Restricting innovation during a recession is the wrong approach, according to Paul Parrish, UK managing director for Fujitsu Technology Solutions.

Progress in some companies will undoubtedly stall in 2009 but for others, the recession will act as a catalyst for change, he said. Forward-thinking businesses will find new ways to gain a lead over their competitors and move on relatively unscathed. Those that are able to harness the power of IT in the coming months will be fitter and leaner for the upturn when it inevitably comes.”

Parrish added that it is possible innovation will continue during the recession, but at a lower rate. 

“Fifty per cent of IT leaders say that using older, inappropriate technology is currently impacting on their ability to reduce costs and therefore improve profit and competitive advantage. So it is likely that this will form the pool of those willing to experiment and innovate in order to improve cost reduction. However that still leaves a lot of CIOs exercising potentially excessive caution and risking getting left behind,” he said.
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