“The CIO is uniquely primed to ascend to the CEO and COO positions in technology driven companies,” says Andre Mendes, CIO/CTO at the US Broadcasting Board of Governors. The CIO has a “helicopter view” of the company that very few other people enjoy. The ERP, CRM and e-commerce implementations CIOs work on are “the entire technology strata of a company.”
“What you have is a realm in which the CIO is now very, very comfortable because they have had to implement enterprise systems in all of those areas. That helicopter view provides them with an understanding of the business at large including the external, the suppliers, to supply chain environments and downstream, the retailers and distributors.
“That provides unique fodder for a CIO to be an operations leader and eventually, the organisation’s leader.”
“The interesting thing about the CIO role is you find a lot of CIOs nowadays can do just about any other [executive] job in the organisation.
“They have to be innovators in order to survive, they have to be creative, they have to be exposed to all these different areas of the company.
“So would it surprise me to see a CIO take over a marketing department? No, because a lot of the marketing department is data mining and targeting. It sounds to me like a logical progression.”
Skills required for CIOs continue to evolve, he says. “The biggest skill CIOs need to continuously bring to the table is the ability to learn and the ability to unlearn, and also the ability to accept appropriate risks and to take appropriate risks.
“The moment the CIO becomes conservative in his or her approach to technology is the moment that CIO has a career at risk and potentially their company is at risk as well,” says Mendes.
“It is okay to be cautious but it is not okay to avoid risks at all costs. It is impossible — and counterproductive.”
Divina Paredes (@divinap) is editor of CIO New Zealand.
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