What the top boss expects you to deliver
Probably the most important relationship a CIO has is with the CEO. A good relationship between these two people means the business understands the potential benefits the IT team can deliver to the rest of the business. In turn, the IT strategy gets the buy-in from the visionary head of the company — hopefully the person who the other business-line heads will fall in behind.
To lay the foundations for the best possible relationship, the CIO has to fulfill certain expectations from the CEO, according to Stephen Miles, at headhunters Heidrick & Struggles. Many of them resonate closely with the skills the CEO has to posess, but others are distinctly complementary.
March 8, 2011
1. 1. Can stand up to a stress test
One of the roles inside many corporations that has truly been stress-tested is that of CIO. Many of the major change and transformative programs have been delivered through technology, and the CIO has been at the epicenter of these initiatives. Some CIOs hold up well to the stress test of major challenges undefined including events such as systems failures undefined while others blow out.
2. 2. Possessing a keen risk radar
The best CIOs go beyond just delivering the systems and technology to thinking broadly about risk. In some companies, the CIO has been instrumental in partnering with the head of risk to deliver the technological architecture for a company to manage and sniff out risk. These CIOs not only try to manage risks but also try to proactively prevent them undefined by asking questions and using their broad tentacles into the entire organization to sniff out the whiffs of smoke before they become a forest fire.
3. 3. Becoming immersed in the global geopolitical ecosystem
Many CIOs are not unilingual as it relates to geographic experience. In fact, many have lived and worked in many different geographies, and their reach inside the company is often across multiple states, countries, or continents. As a result, they are often connected to broader ecosystems that would be complementary to those of the CEO but not the same, as CIOs often don't have the requirements that CEOs have to build deep relationships with governments, regulators and shareholders. However, CIOs are often connected to peer CIOs as well as customers who work and live across other ecosystems. This gives them a feel for what is changing around the globe, allowing them to be a key advisor to the CEO on matters beyond the core stereotypical CIO role.
4. 4. Willingness to scrap old business models
Many of the tectonic shifts in business models have been created by new and disintermediating technologies in which the CIO is often immersed. Again, as a key advisor to the CEO and top executive team, the CIO can help the organization think through the risks and opportunities the shifting landscape provides. For example, we are headed to a world where our mobile device becomes our digital wallet undefined which has massive implications for many companies (and not just in the payments industry) from a risk and reward perspective.
5. 5. Being able to innovate their way into productivity gains
Many gains in productivity have been driven by advancements and innovations in information technologies that the CIO has brought to the business. The savvy CIO, who is as much business executive as technology executive, is able to think expansively about how technology can foster both innovation in all aspects of product and service development and delivery as well as continued productivity gains inside the organization.
6. 6. Taking governance seriously
Many of the risks imbedded in organizations are in the area of technology. Any CIO worth his or her weight has developed an enterprise governance model for technology that, of course, has implications for broader governance, given the reach of technology. Forward-looking CIOs really think about governance models and how to manage risks within the framework. Part of their role is to educate and bring their board of directors on the journey to allow them to feel secure around the model. This model is complementary to the broader corporate governance for which the CEO is responsible.
7. 7. Having a purpose
As part of the C-suite, the CIO must take a greater role in contributing to initiatives that can drive positive change throughout an organization. Whereas the old model of CIO was primarily inward-facing, no one in this role today can ignore the realities of what constituencies from regulators to customers to shareholders require of corporations. The CIO touches so many areas that affect the public and the economy as a whole undefined from consumer privacy online to technology risk controls undefined that this role has transformed into one that demands a clearer set of responsibilities beyond just creating efficiencies.