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.

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