Throughout the better part of 2019, CXOCIETY has had ongoing discussions with senior executives on the C-suite circuit – from chief executive officers (CEOs), to chief finance officers (CFOs), chief information officer (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs), all the way to chief human resource officers (CHROs), chief digital officers (CDOs), among others.
Speaking to FutureCIO, Uli Braun, chief technology officer at Atos Asia-Pacific, observed that organisations he has engaged with are transforming themselves from being product-centric into customer-experience.
Everyone in the C-suite is impacted by this shift in strategy. For the purpose of this article, however, we focus on the chief information officer.
Gartner defines the CIO role as overseeing “the people, processes and technologies within a company’s IT organization to ensure they deliver outcomes that support the goals of the business.”
The analyst noted that with digital becoming a core competency requirement for businesses, the CIO is expected to play “a key leadership role in the critical strategic, technical and management initiatives — from information security and algorithms to customer experience and leveraging data — that mitigate threats and drive business growth.”
Braun believes that IT has marginalised [editor’s note: made less relevant] the role of the CIO. His view is that if the only function of the CIO is to oversee the operation of IT, then the organisation is missing out on the strategic value that the CIO can bring to the table.
The EY report, The DNA of the CIO, highlighted this trend when following a global survey, it reported that “too few CIOs are currently regarded as true members of the executive management team. Many CIOs nowadays appear to be C-level in title only, and this rank is not necessarily reflected in how they are perceived in the leadership team.”
According to the study, what CIOs believed as bringing value to the business is not shared by their C-suite peers. For example, while 60% of CIOs strongly believe that they help enable fact-based decision-making in relation to corporate strategy, just 35% of their C-suite peers agree.
In fact, 48% of the C-suite think the CIO does not get involved in discussing business performance and challenges.
EY suggests that if CIOs are truly going to deliver on the potential remit of their role, and the potential of IT, they will need to work harder to finally secure their position at the top table
To get out of being marginalised, Braun recommends CIOs to shift gears and become more business-minded.
“CIOs must become business partners [to others in the C-suite] rather than someone who operates an IT system. And this is where the challenge lies for organisations – making that transformation happen,” he added.
Fortunately for CIOs, to truly reap the potential of digital transformation requires all members of the C-suite to work together, draw from the strengths of each.
The CIO is no longer the sole arbiter of technology for the organisation. Yes, the CIO has a role to play in ensuring that whatever technology is brought into the mix, plays well with existing systems and adheres to compliance policies already in place.
Technology is now part of the business, and the CIO must support this going forward. At the same time, the CIO is no longer the sole arbiter of what technology the organisation can and must use. Lines of business are already involved and this is reflected in the extent to which some IT budgets are being allocated.
“The technology choice of technology direction is a team effort – an organisational effort. The C-suite must become more technical because technology impacts the business. A team effort, having the right people on the executive team who understand and tie together the company strategy and the vision, from a technology point of view, is absolutely essential to successful digital transformation,” concluded Braun.