Which type of CIO is right for you?

Some self-evaluation is required of executive teams that want to align their IT managers and avoid conflict with the COO. It’s OK if the CIO’s role remains technical rather than strategic, but executives must set goals and measure success accordingly. Here are some pertinent questions:

  1. Does your company view IT activities as key contributors to revenue growth and profitability?
  2. If “yes,” does this represent a new requirement that was presented after key IT hires were made?
  3. If “yes,” does the current IT staff have the business acumen to deliver revenue growth and profitability?

If the answer to the first question is “no,” the CIO should be an expert technologist with enough leadership skills to make sure the back- and mid-office IT support functions are highly reliable.

If the answers are “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second, it could be that, to use author Jim Collins’ expression, “the right people are not on the bus”–that is, the current IT people and structure aren’t up to the task of realizing the strategic goal.

If the answer to all three questions is “yes,” the potential for CIO-COO overlap is high. Top management will need to work diligently to keep these two key executives in alignment and to make sure that they, as well as others in the organization, understand their role boundaries.

Changes At C-Level (sidebar titled, “Which type of CIO is right for you?”)
by Nathan Bennett
Optimize, August 2006

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