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The DNA of the CIO: Less Tech Geek, More Business Leader Needed

Recently, we took a closer look at the Chief Information Officer and learned about the challenges that evolving and emerging social, mobile and cloud technologies have brought to the position. This week, Ernst & Young released a report that further illustrates how critical it is for CIOs to not only assert their technological experience but their business savvy as well.

CIOs at the Crossroads

The report, "DNA of the CIO: Opening the Door to the C-Suite" summarizes the results of a global survey of over 300 senior IT professionals and seeks to determine business views about the CIO role today. The results indicate that chief information officers are at a crossroads. Harnessing the power of technology to drive innovation has never been more critical to business than it is now. But because CIOs are generally regarded as tech geeks instead of as legitimate business executives, the opportunity to influence business decisions may pass them by.

A Seat at the Executive Table?

What can CIOs do to make themselves an integral part of the C-Suite? For starters, they need to fit in, which means learning how to speak in a way that will get corporate’s attention. Technical specification will help the IT department better execute their strategy, but for the Powers That Be, it’s all about the bottom line.

The DNA of the CIO: Less Tech Geek, More Business Leader Needed

Ultimately, CIOs need to need to work harder to secure their position at the top table because at present, many question their presence in the C-Suite. According to the report, less than half (48 percent) of C-Suite executives think that the standing of CIOs has improved in recent years on a range of issues, from product innovation through helping deliver on the operational agility of the company.

It’s an image that clearly doesn’t jive with how CIOs see themselves. The report shows that while 60 percent of CIOs think they add strong value to fact-based decision-making when setting corporate strategy, just 35 percent of their C-suite peers agree — resulting in just 43 percent of CIOs reporting that they are deeply involved in strategic decision-making.

Step 1: Explore the Business World

Changing the hearts and minds of your adversaries is never easy, so how do CIOs go about proving their worth? While you might assume it would be easier to educate others about the merits of good technology and how it is connected to business innovation, it's important to note that not many CIOs have backgrounds in business management. It might behoove tech geniuses to educate themselves about the business world.

Step 2: Learn their Language

It’s not so outrageous to think that communication is a key factor in the CIOs’ perception problem. Speaking in layman’s terms doesn’t hurt, especially when you consider that CEOs are only now getting their feet wet with cloud, mobile and social technologies.

Step 3: Form Strategic Alliances

Of course this isn’t to suggest the problem lies only with CIOs. The C-Suite in general has issues dealing with change and understanding why it’s necessary to have a tech nerd at the table. Educating the C-Suite will take time and require building strategic alliances with key members so they can see up close what the CIO does and why it's valuable.

The Future of the CIO

Overall, the "DNA of the CIO" report serves as a blueprint for eager, but beleaguered CIOs. Business is more social than ever, which makes technology more important. When CIOs learn how to move the conversation onto matters about IT's value and its role within the business, their place within the C-Suite will be established.
 

 
 
 
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