CXO

'Get out there' and find your company's non-escalated problems: CIO of Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing CIO Graeme Hackland explains why CIOs need to 'get out there' and connect with frontline employees to make IT an invaluable part of the company.

As a business leader, do you know the problems in your organization? Sure, you may see the formal complaints, or the tickets that were filed, but do you understand the everyday challenges that are faced by your employees?

That's what Graeme Hackland, CIO of Formula One's Williams Martini Racing, said that he encourages other CIOs to seek out. As part of an interview with CXOTalk, Hackland explained that at some point during every work day, he leaves his desk to go visit someone in the company and talks with them about what they are working on and the challenges they are facing.

"I don't necessarily ask them where can IT help," Hackland said. "I just want to understand what they're doing and I'll maybe be able to come up with some suggestions and areas that we can help."

SEE: Does anyone still want to be a CIO?

The problem with CIOs that remain separated from the day-to-day business is that they can lose touch with the rest of the organization outside of their silo. If you aren't in touch with the rest of the organization, it will be difficult to build solutions that provide enough real value.

"I've talked to CIOs who feel like they're a separate business, that they could just take the IT function and it could be completely separate from the company," Hackland said. "I feel that that's a huge mistake."

This is something that Hackland said he encourages his management teams to do as well. Many CIOs that he has spoken with, he said, often complain of feeling like they're on the outside looking in, that no one comes to them with their projects. However, Hackland believes that CIOs have to play their part in the conversation as well.

"We don't have a divine right to be consulted on everything," Hackland said.

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As a CIO, you have to prove that what you're doing adds value. CIOs should know the goal of the business at its core level, and be able to explain how what they're doing furthers that goal. For example, the primary goal of Williams Martini Racing is to make their car go fast, and make it do that reliably. A good CIO must understand the criteria for business success, tie his or her IT strategy to it, and prove that they are meeting that criteria.

In fact, a recent survey conducted among IT executives found that 70% of the respondents believe it is critical to be able to link IT investments to tangible business outcomes. Technology and business will continue to become more deeply linked and CIOs will need to be able to clearly extrapolate how IT affects the bottom line.

Interested in seeing the rest of the Hackland interview? Watch the full video on CXOTalk.

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About

Conner Forrest is Enterprise Editor for TechRepublic. He covers startups and enterprise technology and is passionate about the convergence of tech and culture.

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