What Makes a CIO ‘Elite’?

Steve Chaffee, Solution Architect, Outsourcing & Enterprise Cloud Solutions

 looks at what makes a CIO ‘elite’ and how an ‘average’ CIO can break out.

A recent survey revealed how CIOs are perceived by non-IT leaders within their organisations – and how they view themselves. It made for a startling read…

In its 2012 State of the CIO report, based on a survey of 596 top IT executives, CIO Magazine revealed that only 22% of CIOs feel they are viewed as ‘true peers or game-changers’ by other business leaders.

That begs an interesting question. What separates that top one fifth, the ‘elite’ CIOs who enjoy real strategic influence from the rest? The CIO report suggests the difference may boil down to a divergent set of priorities.

The ‘elite’ CIOs seem bound together by a set of priorities aligned with corporate goals, rather than purely functional ICT infrastructure management. Indeed, most are rewarded by bonuses tied to measures such as profitability and the successful deployment of IT-intensive products and services.

The under-appreciated 78% meanwhile claim they are seen primarily as ‘cost-centres’ – internal service providers whose contribution to corporate success is undervalued and misunderstood.

But what lies behind this dichotomy? It’s hard to escape the consultation that it is driven by a dangerous misalignment between many CIOs and non-IT business leaders when it comes to organisational priorities such as cost-cutting and dealing with competitive threats. Those divergent views may give rise to a short-sighted focus within the IT organization, which in turn may negatively affect corporate performance, and in turn the prestige and influence of the CIO.

If that is the case then the CIOs are facing an issue driven by corporate culture, so how can those undervalued CIOs break the cycle?

One of those ‘elite’ CIOs offers some straightforward advice. Nancy Wolk of Alcoa, suggests the answer is to quickly sort out priorities by asking of every IT initiative: “Does it help us grow or help us generate cash?”

In other words, the ‘elite’ CIOs focus on high-impact investments like analytics,
cloud services, outsourcing, collaboration, mobility and social media - technologies that “reduce the time and space between employees.”

Coming soon – James Tay, CEO of Logicalis Asia addresses issues surrounding Mobile Device Management and Mobile Application Management.

Steve Chaffee

About Steve Chaffee

Steve Chaffee, Solution Architect, Outsourcing and Enterprise Cloud Solutions, Logicalis US.

Steve has a long history of IT consulting in manufacturing, transportation, unified communications, and other emerging technology arenas. He works directly with engineers and CXOs to create technology solutions that give the business what it needs today as well as years into the future.

His background includes over two decades working with GM on its high-tech automotive manufacturing processes and with EDS, counselling clients on lean manufacturing techniques and lead time improvements through the strategic use of tailored IT solutions.

Steve holds a Bachelor of Science in Management and Economics from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
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