CIOs Challenged to Keep up with Changing Business Needs

Ann All

CIOs sometimes get knocked for the disappointing success rate of IT projects. Yet at least part of the problem may not be under their control, according to an article on silicon.com.


It highlights an EDS-commissioned survey of CIOs at 350 companies listed on London's Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE). The survey found that tech bosses in the UK stay on the job for an average of 38 months, while their U.S. counterparts have even shorter tenures, of about two years.


Such quick turnovers can't do much for the success rate of IT projects. EDS notes that any projects not commissioned within 100 days of a CIO's hire date may not be completed under his or her watch.


If the survey attempted to analyze reasons behind the short tenures, the article doesn't elaborate on them. But in December we linked to an earlier article written by an EDS fellow that may offer some clues.


The fellow noted that CIOs must fill at least seven roles in addition to chief information officer: chief investigative officer, chief international officer, chief inoculation officer, chief identity officer, chief innovation officer, chief integration officer and chief irritation officer (and catalyst for change). That's certainly a lot to put on one person's plate.


A similar theme is echoed in a recent Bank Systems & Technology article with the telling title: "A New Kind of Executive Needed for Future Bank CIOs." The need for a "new" CIO is manifesting itself sooner rather than later as technology is squarely at the center of bank business, says an Accenture expert quoted in the article. But there is little doubt that other industries will (quickly) follow.


An IBM executive says bank CIOs must be able to handle the globalization of financial services as well as other economic and demographic shifts that are impacting the industry. As if that wasn't a big enough challenge, there is a long laundry list of regulation and compliance issues that must be addressed. She says:

(The CIO) needs to manage across many cultures, whether within the company or abroad. You also will need the ability to create effective partnerships, especially around innovation. ... A CIO needs to have the ability to create business models that are innovative, rather than [only] creating new products or services.

Another skill that the "new" CIO will need is the ability to manage multiple outsourcing deals, says an analyst from Financial Insights. We just blogged about this trend earlier this week.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 5, 2007 11:10 AM Ajit Kapoor Ajit Kapoor  says:
The fundamental question remains as to what are the objectives for the CIO and who sets them. Take a look at most CIO job description and becomes clear that the objectives are muddled. While these articles including the recent posting in the "Bank Systems and Technology" sound reasonable but they are only providing lip service to the real problem. Having spent 30 +years in Fortune 500 companies and several start-ups, I can relate to the problem. The solution will require a grass root change in the expectations from the CIO. Many top level CIO's are relegated to running the Blackberry for their CEO. These same CEO's think very little of including their CIOs in business mergers and acquisitions. Finally, CFO should not be allowed to supervise the CIOs due to the very limited and short term vision that their positions requires. But first we must hire the right talent with the right mix of business savvyness and technology deployment-not just fancy powerpoint presentations. The devil is in the details and focusing on the elevator pitch so the CEOs can understand usually does dis-service to the organization and results in failed and costly projects. Reply
Sep 5, 2007 11:42 AM Alan S Michaels Alan S Michaels  says:
Yes, the CIO needs to fill the seven roles identified above, and to do so for the benefit of each business unit - as well as keep the CEO happy with whatever comes up.New on demand business intelligence tools linked to industry information should make it easier for CIO's to stay abreast of all business issues, however.... Managing expectations for CIO to make on demand changes is the tough part. Reply
Sep 13, 2007 11:40 AM tim tim  says:
I agree with both comments above - ultimately managing expectations is the hard part.Is the fact that the CIO filling so many roles due to a lack of focus or a lack of understanding by the business? In a lot of cases the CIO role seems to have been created as it seemed to be the sensible thing to control everything IT -but is it?If the CIO is filling so many roles they cannot be doing what they should be doing which is ensuring that the technical strategic direction of the business actually bares some resemblence or matches the future business strategic targets. Reply

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