CIOs Are from Venus, CEOs Are from Mars

Ann All

It's no secret that CIOs and CEOs are the Venus and Mars of the C-suite.


Driving the point home, we have the latest Gartner Executive Programs survey, which shows that business execs have broad sweeping expectations for IT that don't necessarily match up with those of their technology counterparts.


The business list includes process improvement; attracting, retaining and growing customer relationships; improving workforce effectiveness; entering new markets; faster innovation; and deploying new business capabilities to meet strategic goals.


The CIO's list shows a decidedly more nuts-and-bolts mentality, with its inclusion of legacy application modernization; server and storage virtualization; service-oriented architectures; and technical infrastructure management.


The good news is, most of the items on the CIO list can help enable the items on the CEO list. The bad news: CEOs don't seem to understand that it's not as simple as waving one's hands and shouting "SOA shazam" or some other such phrase, opines the author of a Computer Business Review piece.


Even worse, says Commentator George Colony in a piece, CEOs responding to a recent Forrester Research survey -- while largely satisfied with the overall performance of IT -- do not see it as a proactive enabler of innovation or process improvement.


The real issue, says Colony, is that most CEOs need to better understand how technology can be used to drive business improvements. And CIOs must be the ones to help educate them.


Colony's view was supported in a recent IT Business Edge interview with the Economist Intelligence Unit's director of Global Technology Research. He says that CEOs and CFOs often have unrealistic expectations for technology (bad news), but that they are aware of the need for more tech education (good news).


More good and bad news is found in recent research from the UK-based Chartered Management Institute (CMI). While CEOs seem to recognize the broad business potential of technology, they frequently hand off full responsibility for implementation to CIOs and other execs.


IT initiatives that are not driven from the top down face a greater risk of failure, concludes the CMI. This "leadership vacuum" often results in a lack of drive or inspiration throughout the company, which can doom a tech implementation.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 24, 2007 12:36 PM idpt0000 idpt0000  says:
Technology certainly plays a key part (if not the most important one) pushing today's business growth. The rise of CIOs in those commerical enterprises is one of the evidence.If Colony is correct, that CEOs need to better understand how technology can drive business improvements. Why not let a the CIO take up the leading role? Or maybe one day, it will really happen. Let's keep an eye on it ... Reply

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