Technology spending on the rise, the Cloud embraces Learning, and technology leaders speak out (and blush a little) on their place in the C-Suite.

Executive Summary

Technology spending is on the rise as the election is resolved and the 2017 budgets remain intact, business-impacting events continue unabated, the cloud sets its sights on machine learning, and CIOs speak on out on their challenges in the executive suite - but brag a little as well.

These are among the key findings from Fortium Partners’ November survey Technology Pulse, a brief but long-term study of the essential financial, risk and innovation trends among the world’s foremost technology leaders.

The Technology Pulse includes a brief series of information-dense questions to C-level technology strategists who deliver answers according to the current state of their business. The three key categories - Financial, Risk and Innovation - have the greatest long-term impact on the success of the application and management of technology in business.

The Technology Pulse provides an inside look at the biggest trends in technology for today’s businesses and corporate leaders globally can gain valuable insights into the behaviors and drivers of CIO and CTO behavior in the existing and near-term market.


We’re noticing some changes as our respondents near the end of the year.  Whether it is related to the resolution on the political front or a response to other factors, there was a general trend to increased spending in November across all three expense categories (Operating, Capital, and Personnel). Less than half (45%) of the respondents are on plan (a 4% decrease from the previous month and a 9% decrease since August) chiefly driven by a 5% increase in the number of respondents spending more than plan from the prior month. The additional spending is consistent across expense categories.


Our November round-up of business-impacting events added Malware/Virus at the #2 spot in our top 5 incidents affecting leading technology leaders:

  1. Phishing/Spear Phishing (54% down from 62%)
  2. Malware/Virus (a new addition to the list at 46%)
  3. Ransomware (32% up from 29%)
  4. Denial-of-Service Attack (22% up from 20%)
  5. Significant Production Outage (20% down from 24%)

If you’ve been following along with us on the Pulse surveys you’ve noticed the prevalence of business-impacting events, mostly security-related events. It’s clear that these problems are not going away and our CIOs, CTOs and CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) must be educated, prepared and vigilant. But beyond an aggressive defense, what can businesses do to mitigate the risks posed by these security attacks?  Increasingly, the answer to that can be found in Fortium Partner and resident Cybersecurity Insurance expert Tony Parrillo’s recent blog posts on cybersecurity that cover the basics and provide some lessons learned.

Fortium’s team of C-level cybersecurity experts are standing by ready to help, just reach out to start a conversation.


If you didn’t look closely, you’d think we’d just reprinted the Top 5 Innovations on technology leaders’ radars from our October survey:

  1. Software-as-a-Service
  2. Cloud
  3. Internet-of-Things
  4. Desktop-as-a-Service
  5. Software-Defined Infrastructure

But look again… same items, different order.  Internet-of-things rose to #3 and Desktop-as-a-Service bumped Software-Defined Infrastructure down to the #5 spot. Regardless of the movement, the implication is clear: these top 5 innovations warrant your attention due to their staying power.

Just outside the top 5 at #7 is an innovation mentioned more times than #4 and #5 on our list is vying for your attention: Machine Learning (the ability for computers to learn without being explicitly programmed). A discipline of computer science that is too broad and complex to address here, Machine Learning is experiencing a surge of interest and has collided with #2 on our list: Cloud. The leading cloud vendors (AWS, Google, IBM and Microsoft) have all rolled out machine learning (related: artificial intelligence and deep learning) capabilities over the past couple of years. Amazon Web Services just announced three new services  (Rekognition, Polly, and Lex) at Re:Invent this past week designed to “bring machine learning to every developer," Amazon GM Swaminathan Sivasubramanian said in this ZDNet article. The driving technologies behind Fintech’s roboadvisors, chatbots, semantic understanding of social media trends and more; the effects of easier access to machine learning will accelerate its use and the creation of entirely new experiences for consumers and business users alike.  

If you’re not sure how to take advantage of machine learning (or artificial intelligence or deep learning), reach out for a conversation with Fortium.

Special Topic: CIOs in the Executive Suite

This month we asked technology leaders to pull back the curtain on some of the issues they face as members of the executive suite in companies of all sizes.

  • What is the most difficult topic to discuss with your CEO and executive team?
  • How do your C-level peers view your contribution to the organization?

Difficult Topics

Our technology leaders opened up on the most difficult, and personal, challenges related to their role on the executive team:

  • 44% of respondents indicated that one of their most difficult challenges is positioning the technology function more strategically with respect to the CEO and their peers.  
  • 25% identified the isolation one feels as an executive in a highly-technical field which few outside of IT really understand.
  • 23% voiced a frustration that, while managing an organization’s technology can yield valuable insight into improvement opportunities throughout the organization, the CIO’s peers aren’t receptive.

Peer’s Perspective

How a CIO’s contribution is viewed by their peers can have a significant impact on the success of the individual in the role.  Our respondents revealed the following trends:

  • 30% reported that the Board “values my leadership."
  • 28% reported that their peers believe the organization “would fail without the contribution of my technology team."
  • 28% also said that “technology is considered equally important as finance, operations, sales and marketing by my peers."
  • Finally, 26% of technology leaders surveyed responded that they are “involved in as many strategic decisions as other members of the C-suite."

The responses to this question demonstrate an area of improvement involving the entire C-suite. In days past, the CIO role and technology team was not viewed as strategic as other roles, such as sales or finance. That trend is changing as technology leaps into the driver’s seat and becomes a business driver through new innovations like the Internet of Things, Big Data (and predictive analytics), machine learning and other digital disruptors that are changing the way we do business.

We anticipate that over time, these percentages will continue to rise as CEOs look to technology leaders to boost competitiveness by finding new supply chain efficiencies, using data inputs to become customer experts using customer-centric analytics, transforming technology teams into engines of customer engagement using apps and protecting organizations through world-class cybersecurity.

While there’s no doubt that th role of the CIO is often difficult for CEOs and peers to relate to, the contribution of the CIO and their organization is perceived as truly valuable. As we’ve seen from the Risk and Innovation sections of this report, the concepts and challenges faced by CIOs shows no sign of getting less technical or easy to understand. CIOs must embrace the bilingual nature of the role and work equally hard at communicating well when speaking in business terms as when speaking in technical terms. A recent blog post on the Fortium Partners blog, The CEO’s New Best Friend: The “Bilingual CIO”, is one executive’s take on the subject.

About Fortium Partners and Technology Pulse

Fortium’s Technology Pulse report monitors technology trends impacting businesses now and in the future. We combine the insights of thousands of world-class technology leaders with analysis and commentary from its growing roster of partners – CIOs and CTOs on the forefront of delivering Technology Leadership as a Service to clients of all sizes and industries. For more information, visit