It is a standard phrase now in the industry — that CIOs have the one-off advantage among their executive peers of having a comprehensive view of the organisation. Ironically, this premium view also places an added expectation for CIOs and those aspiring to the role.
Jack Santos, a research vice president at Gartner, points out this is a key issue that CIOs face as they stride into business leadership roles: “CIOs need to not only establish rapport with the various departments, but also know their company’s business and industry as well as (or better than) their executive peers do. CIOs must understand their business partners’ domain and objectives as well as be able to effectively articulate how IT can help.”
This is, no doubt, a redoubtable mission. Consider that across organisations of different sizes, business units are not averse to going off and buying external technology services if they deem their respective IT departments may be unable to provide these to them in a suitable time frame and at the right price.
But interestingly, a number of the CIOs we profile in this month's issue are talking about the imperative of CIOs being able to overcome these hurdles and provide key differentiators to the organisation.
Thomas Salmen, Orcon CTO, says it best: “Whether you are CIO or CTO, having a really good understanding of what you are selling, what your business and the end customers want, how and what you do to translate that into end customer value — is the biggest thing.”
From Silicon Valley, Mark Egan of VMware echoes this message. “Look at what is the core of your business. How can IT help? How can you apply technology to what you are doing and then really drive that?”
This, in essence, is the realisation of the phrase ‘IT is the business’: IT as key differentiator, pure and simple.
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