CIOs seem to be feeling kind of down lately. Close to two-thirds of them recently surveyed by Deloitte do not see their IT departments as the hub of innovation within their organizations. Almost half say the reason they constrained from participating in the innovation wave is because of conflicting IT priorities, along with tight budgets. Also, the business just doesn't understand what IT is all about.

Those are some of the takeaways of Deloitte's latest CIO Survey, based on more than 700 responses from across the globe. CIOs report that, on average, 60 percent of their budgets go into “business-as-usual” activities – which means maintenance and upgrades. This actually isn't bad compared to other studies I've seen that assign 75 percent of IT budgets to maintenance mode, but still nonetheless points to the challenge of getting IT out in front of innovation efforts.

However, at least 75 percent report that they have a clear understanding of what their businesses need in terms of innovation, and how IT can contribute. Mobile, cloud, social media and big data analytics are all key to business growth, and businesses will increasingly rely on their IT leaders to deliver these capabilities. Deloitte makes some recommendations as to what IT leaders need to do to better position themselves and their departments as innovation drivers:

Get in the driving seat. While the rise of shadow IT and digital enterprise may seem threatening to IT – especially when marketing chiefs seem to have more of a technology budget than CIOs – there's actually never been a better time to be IT. IT leaders need to play a central role in innovation initiatives, and can do so by proposing new technology approaches to provide new business opportunities, such as mobile, analytics and cloud.

Seek out big data opportunities. Provide the tools and platforms that help support decision making will provide great visibility and respect to IT departments.

Think out of the box. Look outside the organization, to partners, customers and vendors, to play a role in conceiving and developing new ideas.

Embrace failure, enthusiastically. Encourage new ideas, and let staff know it's okay to fail – the important thin is they keep trying.

Shake up your recruitment process. Look for professionals who think in broad terms, who are willing to take business to the next level.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

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