Innovation

CIOs: Can you do what's being asked of you?

It seems like a line is being drawn in the sand for CIOs. If you want a seat at the corporate table, then you must play a part in business strategy. Is this too much to ask?

I've read lots of reports lately that warn of the fact that IT pros, particularly CIOs, are going to be asked to become more business-centric in the future. This is a more pointed extension of the IT/business alignment strategies that used to be talked about all the time.

It looks like businesses are looking to make IT/business alignment happen by making it a career requirement for CIOs.

According to the press, businesses have new requirements for the CIO who "wants a seat at the executive table." I may be looking at this rather simplistically but if you want a CIO who is up on the business, can predict technical trends years ahead of time in order to drive that business, AND keep the infrastructure humming, that CIO should have more than a seat at the table. He should be leading the show.

In other words, you are requiring a person who (in most cases) has an in-depth, focused knowledge of tech to also develop a separate set of skills-one that includes product innovation and data interpretation. There doesn't seem to be an understanding that those are separate skills.

And even if a CIO can achieve all this, how many years will it be before he or she can get a tech initiative okayed by the CFO without question or without a panel consensus? I'm not sure it can happen. The idea that IT is a cost center and that IT pros are so infatuated with technology that they recommend solutions just because of the "cool factor" is very ingrained in upper management. Is it also the CIO's "duty" to sway that opinion? And what about the huge responsibility of keeping existing systems up and running? How can one person do all of this?

What do you think? Will CIOs be able to pull this feat off?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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