CIO Event Leeds – 5 key things we learnt

April 21, 2015

19th May 2015 — Harvey Nash, in association with KPMG, launches the 17th annual Harvey Nash CIO Survey. Our launch event, hosted in KPMG’s Leeds offices, brought sixty CIOs and technology leaders from across the region together, to discuss and debate the future of IT.

The panelists were:
Richard Harris, CIO, Northgate Plc
Ed Hutt, CIO, Fitness First
Carolyn Pearson, CEO, Maiden Voyage
Graham Benson, CIO,

Here’s what we learnt:

Wearable tech – Emperor’s new clothes? There was much discussion about health tech, and whether wearable devices represent a new frontier in how technology can affect our lives. This was something that Ed Hutt (Fitness First) had a particular perspective on – incorporating data from the plethora of mobile devices to help give gym customers a better experience is a key differentiator for his company. During the wearable discussion Graham Benson brought us a blast from the past – WAP. Why did this mobile technology fail so badly? It did not place the user at its heart; tech for tech’s sake serves no-one.

Women in tech – a broken model? The CIO Survey shows consistent lack of progress for women in tech, both at senior and junior level. Carolyn added a fascinating perspective to this; whilst women in tech (especially engineering) seems to be ‘broken’, the women themselves certainly aren’t – they are busy setting up new companies and ventures that make great use of tech. The fact they are not necessarily in the ‘engine room’ of tech might be an issue for the industry, but in Carolyn’s view it is less of an issue for the women themselves.

A skills shortage, or a ‘values’ shortage? There was lots of talk about how finding the right talent remains a real issue; the CIO Survey backed this up – skills shortages are close to a 7 year high (especially in data analytics). There was a sense that the industry should focus more on the soft / culture side, rather than the hard technical skills of a person. ‘Find me the person with the right values, and we can train them the technical skills.’ So actually, are we suffering from a ‘values shortage’ rather than a ‘skills shortage’?

Tech budget growth, but also new priorities. Over the last year almost half of CIOs have seen increases in budget, continuing the positive trend of growing investment in technology we have charted since 2009. The biggest riser in priorities this year Business Analytics, and biggest drop has been Saving Costs, and delivering a Stable and consistent IT – both traditionally top priorities. Interestingly managing operational risk also sees a big rise. As the world becomes more connected, the need to manage security, and especially within banking compliance, has never been stronger.

Will CMOs inherit the earth? (No). Certainly last year it looked like CIOs were beginning to lose their grip on digital ownership. However this year we’ve seen a marked turnaround, in fact a remarkable turnaround. 15 percent more CIOs this year reported they had sole ownership, or joint ownership with marketing, of the digital strategy. This was mostly at the expense of the CMO where sole ownership dropped by 16 percent. CIOs are enjoying a stronger relationship with marketing this year, with 33 percent rating it ‘very strong’, up from 30 percent last year. Perhaps more tellingly, where the digital strategy is jointly owned by IT and marketing the relationship is strongest, with 41 percent of CIOs rating it ‘very strong’. It appears that when it comes to CMOs, to know them is really to love them.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and continue to make Harvey Nash events such a great platform for debate and networking. If you would like to find out more about our technology recruitment, executive search and offshoring services visit us at