What CEOs Want From Their Next IT Leaders

What CEOs Want From Their Next IT Leaders

Wanted: CIO 2.0


Audience member: We also have to be better sales people. Other CXOs are out tooting their own horns every chance they get. I was shocked when I moved into IT to see how little the team bragged about its accomplishments. They had no PR plan. You have to convince people in real ROI terms why IT is important.

Gupta: Many CIOs see marketing as a dirty word.

Merry: We branded our IT group. We gave them a logo and played the marketing guys at their own game. Sell yourself because you have something to sell.

Badavas: Don't market 'stuff'. Market the value, the result you caused. That will have people sit up and take notice. CEOs would love to cut through the pre-amble before the answer. Start with the answer and then you've got my attention.

Patrick: But be careful what you ask for. If you ask for that seat, you'd better be able to deliver value. If you can only talk about speeds and feeds, you'll find yourself quickly out of there.

Friedenberg: [To audience] How many CIOs are in customer-facing roles? [Few hands are raised.]

Gupta: Other CXOs are more comfortable than CIOs in that role.

Badavas: It may not be as natural for a CIO as it would be for a sales leader, but you're all much better than you think when it comes to talking about using information as a growth driver. You need to be put in the right opportunity to succeed. Then getting up in front of the customer is a natural. It's a requirement for our CIO. 'Everyone sells' is a basic premise at our company. Because we provide contract and temporary employees to businesses, our CIO represents the customer more than any other executive. He is uniquely positioned to get in front of our clients and represent the service our company offers.

The long view

Friedenberg: What does the role of the CIO look like 10 years out?

Gupta: Boards of directors will get younger, and they will have more appreciation of technology. So there'll be a better chance for that connection with the CIO to happen naturally. But since many more people in the organization will understand the strategic use of technology, the person with the CIO title will no longer have a monopoly on that. Expectations will be higher as both sides get more sophisticated.

Merry: It won't be like today. We won't have the typical roles. There will be more collaboration and partnerships with non-competing companies in the use of technology and sharing of resources. You won't need a CTO in the organization: HP will do that and you'll manage the relationship. There'll be a much smaller senior IT team working with the business and managing relationships. And there will be a lot of Indians and Chinese in our organizations.

Friedenberg: What advice would you give the audience that they could take away and use to get better prepared to meet the new CEO expectations?

Patrick: Get exposure beyond your function area of expertise, and get inter-national experience -- live overseas. I look for that with every person I place. And though it seems basic, work for good companies. People want to hire talented, innovative change drivers.

Merry: Be brave in front of the business and make sure you get the relationships and governance right.

Gupta: Learn the CEO's agenda, get your team on that agenda and make sure the CEO knows you understand that agenda.

Badavas: Make something happen from a business perspective. Influence your peers, articulate future possibilities and just be bold.

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