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CIOs still dismissed as mere techies by CEOs

Gartner survey reveals the stereotype still persists

CEOs still often dismiss CIOs as too techie and not aligned business activities, according to results from the latest Gartner research.

According to a survey of 220 CEOs across the world, business leaders expect spend on IT to rise, but without a corresponding rise in the importance of the role of the CIO within the organisation.

Gartner VP Mark Raskino said the results showed CIOs were rarely seen as the masters of innovation management within the company by the CEO, nor were they thought of as strategy partners.

"In a world of digital disruption, how safe an arrangement is that?" he said.

Although 40 per cent of CIOs report to the CEO, 30 per cent to the COO and 20 per cent to the CFO, this reporting trend has not changed in a decade, Raskino explained.

"When we asked them why their CIO had this reporting line, our respondents couldn't give an answer. We are finding that too often CEOs recruit from outside, suggesting they can't find desirable candidates from inside the business," he said. "CEOs aren't investing enough thought on how they are developing the CIO role from within."

CIOs appear to be failing in the eyes of CEOs in terms of alignment with the rest of the business. The research showed the stereotype of the head of IT being too preoccupied with technical issues to be effective business leaders persists. He said they were perceived as unable to bring a breadth of business perspective to the table.

Raskino explained that the CIO view that they cross departmental boundaries because they control the systems that support them is unhelpful when trying to demonstrate expertise in other parts of the business to the CEO.

"Some CEOs might even find this reasoning irritating," he said, "because it shows a process-centric view of the company, rather than a political or pragmatic one. This perfect world-view is at odds with the mundane realities of business life that other business leaders have to deal with to accomplish their goals."

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