What CIOs need to know to get cosy with the CEO

Learn what's worrying your chief exec - and what IT can do about it...

With no end to economic uncertainty in sight, CIOs need to find out what's keeping their CEOs awake at night - and how those worries could impact IT, according to analyst house Gartner.

"Business leaders see very uncertain times ahead in 2011, and they must defend growth despite falling business and consumer confidence," Mark Raskino, Garter vice president, said in a statement.

The analyst house has identified seven major CEO concerns that CIOs should seek to address:

CEOs: Confidence fading - CIOs: Expect limited resources
There's fading confidence among CEOs, according to Gartner, with many likely to retreat from bullish investment and expansion plans next year if confidence continues to decline.

In preparation for next year, most CIOs should therefore work on the assumption of very limited increases in resources - with the message being one of "making do with what we have".

Some business initiatives conceived in mid-2010 amid more bullish feelings will make it through the budgeting cycle but are likely to face delay and hesitancy from the board in the first half of 2011, warns the analyst. CIOs are advised to get the message across to the project owners that they risk losing IT resources to another part of the business.

CEOs: Driving cash flow and creation - CIOs: Make IT's contribution visible
CIOs are now having to find ways to grow the business while maintaining a healthy cash cushion as insurance against ongoing economic uncertainties which could lead to business volatility.

business meeting CIOs must make sure the business is aware of IT's contribution to cash flow

CIOs must make sure the business is aware of IT's contribution to cash flow
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

CIOs should be making sure IT's contribution to cash generation and cash flow is visible in the business.

"CEOs will be far more interested in IT project business cases that directly drive cash measures," said Raskino. "To properly align IT's contribution to the most pressing of current business concerns, CIOs should ensure that among the projects they are pursuing, the contribution to cash generation and cash flow acceleration is visible.

"This may require focusing attention on the issue with your management teams."

CEOs: Seeking efficiencies - CIOs: Automate and overhaul old ways
CEOs have cut costs over the past two years, and many can't raise prices as consumers continue to tighten their belts.

As a result, CEOs have limited options when it comes to creating strong profit margins, so many will look to generate efficiencies by re-engineering processes or systems rather than simply cutting them, says Garner. This is where the CIO can help.

The analyst says CIOs should target at least one major business process to be revolutionised or obliterated in 2011 or 2012. Heads of IT proposing larger structural cost-saving ideas, such as major end-to-end process changes or automations - moving from paper to online statements, for instance - are likely to receive approval from the CEO.

CEOs: Monetising innovation - CIOs: Bring in new technologies
Most businesses have been continuing R&D efforts through the recession but holding back on initial launches to await better market conditions, according to the analyst.

As the economic outlook stabilises, Gartner says CEOs will need to...