With the economy changing how many firms do business, it is not surprising that the role of CIO is also changing. CIOs around the world are being asked to do more with less and put forward strategic ideas to contribute to making the business competitive. This is a great opportunity for CIOs to get out from the role of the pure technologist and rise into a strategic role.
For CIOs the next step is crucial step. We must be able to learn the business. Business knowledge will help us put forward strategic ideas into terms business leaders will understand. This knowledge will help in developing credibility and sound solutions, strategies, and ideas. This understanding will allow us to align the IT function to the overall organizational strategy and to be able to demonstrate and achieve results that pave the way for long-term business change and growth through technological solutions.
CIOs are poised to be the catalysts and change agents to help move businesses forward and to drive competitive advantage. How we answer this challenge will determine our position in business. If we succeed, there will be a place for us in the boardroom. If we fail we will be back in the datacenter.
Chief Executive Officer. Chief Operating Officer. Chief Financial Officer. Chief Information Officer? Information? I have always questioned that word (information) in the title. How does one manage information? Information is something you use and generally speaking, cannot be managed. And here lies the problem with the title. What is the strategic value of the position of CIO? If the role of CIO is to have executive ownership of information, doesn’t this role come into direct conflict with the roles of COO and CFO?
Will a CFO handover control of financial information to get it from the CIO? Or will the COO give up operational data to get it from the CIO? I don’t think so! Every C-level executive with executive responsibility demands ownership control of the information supporting them and will use this information accordingly to make appropriate business decisions. This is the fundamental problem of where in the executive structure does the CIO fit? What strategic value can the CIO bring in the boardroom?
So then what is the real strategic value of the position of CIO? If the position cannot have oversight of all information then what is the role of the CIO. The answer is “integration”.
As Chief “Integration” Officer, the CIO’s role can focus on integrating and improving process and workflow. It is only by linking different systems to streamline business process workflow and by assuming responsibility for identifying and removing bottlenecks in the chain can the function of the CIO provide real strategic value to overall business operations. The CIO now becomes the primary integrator across the firm.
The role of CIO must move away from being just the head tech guy to having a more strategic role in a company’s operations. It is only by having a more strategic role can the position of CIO provide real value.