Collaboration

Why the lone wolf of IT has to come in from the cold

Consumerisation, the cloud and the internet of things will force tech chiefs to rethink their attitudes.

CIOs are perceived by their bosses to be lone wolves, detached from the rest of the rest of the business and unlikely to stick around for the long term.

According to a survey of chief executives by analyst firm Gartner, the CIO is seen as an "itinerant specialist" while the CFO remains the CEO's trusted adviser.

Gartner vice president Mark Raskino told TechRepublic: "There is a general tacit agreement in business today that CIOs are not quite part of the core team. Sometimes they are, but in general they are perceived as people who are first and foremost specialists in what they do - and somewhat secondarily industry or company specific."

He said this perception is truer of CIOs than most other executive-level roles, adding, "The CIOs are not necessarily uncomfortable with this."

Raskino said CIOs are less likely to see themselves as staying with an organisation long term, "So they are not so deeply bonded into the core of the organisation." According to Gartner's research, CIOs and CEOs expect the CIO's next job to be running technology at another company - rather than stepping up into the CEO role.

About 40 per cent of CIOs report to the CEO, 30 per cent report to the COO and 25 per cent to the CFO, according to Gartner. As a result, Raskino said, CIOs are less involved with key relationships - with the board, investor and customers - than the CFO or CEO, which means their role is less deeply immersed in the core business.

In contrast, the relationships the CIO maintains are with key suppliers of technology: "The relationships the CIO has are generic - they're going to be with Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and so on," Raskino said.

But he said the status of the CIO may have to change. "As we get towards the cusp of the internet of things world, the complexity of what needs to be done with technology in the business will mean the CIO role will become stronger," he said.

"This idea that the CIO is an interchangeable professional who can just be plucked and shoved from one company to another is less likely to be the way it is in five years from now."

According to Gartner's survey of CEOs, CIOs are rarely seen as leading innovation. As such CIOs need to move from itinerant to entrepreneurial modes.

Raskino said it is unclear where leadership of IT will go. "Because of consumerisation, the cloud and the internet of things, and because in the second half of the information age people will focus more on information than technology, the leadership roles required to extract business value may change," he added.

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

8 comments
waltersokyrko
waltersokyrko

CIOs are smart people. They see how they are treated and behave accordingly. If the CEO does not view the CIO as his potential replacement then the CIO looks elsewhere for career path. If that career path leads to another organization with a larger, more important IT unit then the CIO will go there. If a company want the CIO to commit to the company then the company needs to commit to the CIO. The CIOs who do not report to the CEO need to talk to the CEO about career path. If this makes the COO/CFO unhappy then perhaps the CIO should discuss the advantages of having the COO/CFO reporting to the CIO. In modern corporations, most work is accomplished using IT. I do not know where CEOs get their perception but my experience is that the CIO is much more likely to innovate than the COO or CFO.

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

The CEO is in charge of the companies direction. The CFO is in charge of the companies money. The CIO is in charge of a *small* piece of the companies assets... generally a massive cost-center. Put it into perspective.

ittechexec
ittechexec

I agree. CIOs in many organizations take a back seat on the executive team to the COO and CFO. One of the main reasons is that CIOs have historically been tasked with using technology to drive cost savings...and cost savings is largely the overall domain of the CFO. This blog post http://mdalums95.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/ciocto-branding-strategies-3-primary-differentiators-for-the-executive-it-resume/ advocates having CIOs focus on 1) business transformation, 2) revenue growth, and then 3) cost savings or process improvement. It is geared for CIO and CTO resumes and their brand image, but applies to how a CEO would perceive the value of the CIO role if they were innovators that kept priorities in that order.

bfay
bfay

This article doesn't answer the question which comes first. Are CIOs being treated as "not quite part of the core team" therefore making them not quite as committed or are CIOs acting not as committed leaving them to be treated as ???not part of the core team????? In my experience it is not the latter. Very few CIOs at ANY company are truly treated as an equal with other executives or senior staff. Honestly, how many CIOs are in line to eventually be CEO? Any other VP??? maybe! But it???s just not there for the CIO. There are some rare exceptions (maybe some tech firms), but they are very rare.

info
info

...This article wasn't bad. Just affirms what most of us already knew, hence the 'most CIOs are comfortable with that' comment. And it isn't untrue. The CFO tends to be the CEO's right-hand man because they're keeping the cash flowing, which is far more attractive than playing with computers and 'stuff'. The entire 'business' of IT is handled differently than most others, so where a CIO could assume the CEO role at, say, Oracle or Microsoft, you wouldn't even THINK it at Merrill-Lynch or Volkswagen AG. There's no 'fault' to be had, because you certainly can't stick any with the head of the company. It just explains 'how things are' so we can best decide how to deal with it.

maj37
maj37

About 40 per cent of CIOs report to the CEO, 30 per cent report to the COO and 25 per cent to the CFO, according to Gartner. As a result, Raskino said, CIOs are less involved with key relationships - with the board, investor and customers - than the CFO or CEO, which means their role is less deeply immersed in the core business. ---------------------- So who's fault is that, who decides who the CIO reports to, certainly not the CIO.

bjk002
bjk002

TR is really queuing up the winning stories today. " the second half of the information age" - Really? I had no idea we were half way through already... "people will focus more on information than technology" - There's absolutely no prognosticating going on here. The whole article is specious opinion. Boring.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Better yet, why is it a cost center? If IT is such a load on the bottom line, why do businesses even keep it around? Maybe it's time CEOs and CFOs stop looking at IT as a cost and consider how much IT [u]enhances[/u] corporate revenue?