Is the CIO the person to take IT forward?

Are companies well served by their CIOs? In many cases senior executives and boards are sceptical, at best, as to what is being delivered off the back of significant investment in Information Technology.  Is the CIO part of the problem or part of the solution?

Where businesses have a strategy – against which they are executing – chances are the IT has a role to play.  Perhaps there are opportunities in the supply chain or ways to better serve customers or ways to solve design problems more efficiently or in different ways?  Perhaps greater collaboration is required – internally, with partners, with customers?

But does business need a CIO to achieve this?

A CEO or divisional head may need to be aware of some new possibilities in the areas of collaboration or quality control or data analysis.  But does she need a CIO to make this happen? Perhaps she needs better informed executives – with better support within their divisions/ functions/ business units  – to drive these initiatives forward.  More importantly she needs support at Board level to support the required upfront investment (including any required interruptions) or additional monthly payments.

Does the CIO really belong to an era of building internal IT departments with significant inhouse technical capability?

And where there is a CIO we end up with the inevitable handoff from the business to the CIO – and potentially the CIO never succeeds in obtaining the required focus/ support from the business which uis actually seeking the solution in the first instance.

Good CIOs have not stood still.  They understand their own environments, they are familiar with the emerging technologies and they are seeking to involve themselves more closely in the management of the companies in which they work. In some cases they are ruffling feathers by asking some tough questions of business leaders.

Companies still need to understand IT costs, project complexity, requirements/ benefits of integration, data security – where does all of this end up if there is no CIO? And who has the expertise to manage/ broker a number of providers of managed services?

If we accept that there is a challenge (evidenced by recent flatlining/ reductions in IT budgets) then looking to see how more effective leadership can be provided has to be part of the analysis.  Businesses (who have effective strategies) need everything available to them to enable them to execute.  And that includes the best of IT.  Businesses lacking effective strategies will waste money on IT and many other expenses headings.


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Author: Barry OGorman

Barry O'Gorman is an independent business and IT consultant, based in Dublin, Ireland.

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