The IT department's relationship with the C-suite is improving. According to the 2016 Harvey Nash survey, an increasing number of CIOs now present to board executives on a regular basis.

Digital transformation is sculpting an increasing number of business models. The CIO's role is now less about IT as a necessary cost centre, and more about managing delivery. This is allowing CIO talent to demonstrate to the board their leadership skills and strategic creativity. CIO UK looks at how a changing world of business infrastructure has changed the relationship between the CIO and the executive board.

CIOs in the boardroom: Digital evolution

A traditional CIO was mainly concerned with the IT infrastructure but has now taken on additional responsibilities. In the past the CIO would rarely meet with the CEO as they did not have much to do with the way the business was being run, or would be run in the future.  But an increasing reliance o newtechnology has seen the CIO increasingly pitch products and services to the C-suite, bringing new ideas for the business strategy. The digital landscape has pushed the CIO's career in supporting the CEO and driving success against competitors.

Technology has become an integral part of the C-suite's mindset. The 2016 Harvey Nash survey revealed that 57% of CIOs now sit on the executive board. Organisations are expecting CIOs to lead the delivery of the digital strategy.

Toyota is currently developing on being the ‘Partner of Choice’ in improving their customer experience. The IT team are focusing on the relationship between the car manufacturer and its dealers, in wanting to exceed the customers’ expectations.  

In an interview with CIO US CIO and VP Albert Ma, at Toyota, has seen IT become much more of “the business” in driving success within the organisation.

He said “we have seen a shift from back-office activities like process improvement and optimized efficiencies, to more customer-facing, revenue-generating capabilities. Our executives really understand this and we’re working together to see how we can drive business outcomes through the use of IT.

CIOs in the boardroom: A growing relationship

This increasing relationship between the CIO and the board has seen leadership skills be required of the CIO. The demand on a CIO is for them to become an influencer and business shaper, creating a digital vision for the company. The CIO must enable executives and employees to keep up with the pace of technology and be digitally aware, as well as transforming the customer experience.  

2016 CIO 100 member Alan Crawford, CIO at Action for Children, has seen his relationship with the board increase through implementing new products and services for the organisation.

He said: "My role as a CIO is seen as that of a partner with the directors, providing them with a service aimed at improving the lives of children."

Crawford is currently increasing the operational efficiency and effectiveness of IT, working with Stoneseed to help support the aims of the charity. He continued "We are keen to look at the whole design of our children's services and make use of technology, with parents going online to find information."

The project has seen Action for Children save up to 10% of its £800,000 cost over five years. These savings will see money reinvested back into the organisation.

Which is important. According to Harvey Nash, 63% of CEOs now prefer IT projects that generate revenues rather than save money. 

CIOs in the boardroom: Board change

As technology evolves so will the board. Board members need to understand the ways in which IT products are driving growth in the business, not simply relying on the CIO to handle technology. The scale of new technologies such as Big Data, analytics and the possible threat of cyber-attacks are issues CIOs are tackling, but the board needs to understand.

The relationship is no longer separated between the C-suite and IT department. Technology has created a deeper engagement between the business, technology and its customers in creating a network in which executives and IT departments can thrive.