CIO Establishing CloutThe role of the CIO is changing. As the digital age presses on at an exponentially faster pace, senior executives are getting more exposure to technology. Consequently, more exposure leads to more understanding which makes the IT field less nebulous to laymen. In many organizations, C-Level executives are finding it easier than ever to make informed decisions about technology.

C-Levels may be able to pick great technology; however, absent a solid IT strategy, an enterprise that simply grabs the-next-best-thing will inevitably be left with disparate and redundant solutions.  Accordingly, success of CIO services will be linked not to the number of reports we have and the amount of hardware we control, but to the measurable business value we add to the organization.

The CIO Services Credibility Disconnect

Across industries, there is an inherent distrust between CIO’s and the other C-Level staff.  As CIO’s, we are techies at heart, which means we generally do not have the hardcore business acumen of the other execs. CEO’s, who focus on growth and a healthy bottom line, see lack of business sense as a liability. Moreover, the average CIO is younger than the rest of the leadership team which does not help with the trust issue.  When we get swept up in the latest innovation, there is a greater chance that our zeal will be viewed as immaturity. IT is wrought with risk. When IT projects fail, they fail hard.

To Build Clout As A CIO

  • First learn to show a clear connection between the proposed innovation and the business objective. This involves truly understanding the business need. Much of the distrust can be mitigated through communication.
  • Set appropriate expectations. If the technology implementation is tenuous, make sure you communicate that fact up front. Transparency is a big key to trust.
  • Restrain yourself. Sometimes it pays to be on the bleeding edge, other times you simply get cut. If something looks too risky, ease into it.

Strategy is Political Power

As CIO’s we are in the one position that has visibility into all business functions in an enterprise. As a result, we need to take the reigns with regard to cross departmental IT strategy.

Left to their own devices, non-IT execs tend to build data and technology silos. CIO services can provide the intra-organizational thread that brings it all together. Mobile and cloud are adding to the unification problem. Namely, these newer technologies extend IT’s reach to more devices, more users, and more issues.

Enterprise continuity requires a leader who can bring order to the mix. Don’t be surprised if organizations begin to shift to part-time, Fractional CIO services. Once an IT strategy is in place it is not always necessary to have a CIO overseeing execution. This doesn’t diminish the value of the CIO; it simply frees up time for us to do what we do best — golf — or diversify our services across industries on a part-time CIO basis.