Will CIO Role Totally Disappear?

Susan Hall
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Five Reasons Project Portfolio Management Will Matter to CIOs in 2012

A survey of UK finance directors has been creating a buzz with the finding that 17 percent of respondents believe the CIO position will disappear entirely in the next five years.


That's certainly a minority of the 203 CFOs and finance directors who participated in the January survey by IT services company Getronics UK, but perhaps it's the short time frame that has captured so many people's imagination. My colleague Ann All wrote last November that key business functions are on the horizon for many CIOs - that it's no longer simply about managing technology.


A CFO World piece on the Getronics survey makes the point that the CIO role initially grew out of managing technology for finance and seems to be moving back there. Among some of the findings:


  • 31 percent believe CIOs will come from a non-technical background in the future.
  • 40 percent say their own CIOs need a greater understanding of IT itself. (Not surprising with more non-technical CIOs.)
  • 38 percent say CIOs' understanding of finance is not good.
  • 56 percent believe that a lack of integration between finance and IT limits the savings achievable from IT projects.
  • 48 percent say closer integration is taking place at their companies; 35 percent said it is decreasing.
  • 77 percent say they have assumed greater responsibility for IT decisions over the past two years.
  • 43 percent believe the top IT leadership role will eventually merge with the top finance position.


Indeed, a survey of 344 CFOs by Gartner and professional organization Financial Executives International last summer found a low opinion of IT departments' ability to meet business needs - and following that logic, a need for CFOs to step in.


In a Tech Republic post, writer Mark Samuels offers five ways that CIOs can strengthen their hand. They include:


  1. Build relationships and always think about value.
  2. Concentrate on proving the art of the possible.
  3. Build trust to show how IT can create great businesses.
  4. Focus on making a difference, not on your reporting line.
  5. Work with other senior executives to meet business objectives.


Building relationships and trust are key and could show in your paycheck. A recent Survey Links Building Business Relationships, Bigger Bucks found that the highest-paid CIOs spend more time fostering relationships within the business than those who make less.


A commenter on Samuels' post boils it all down to this:

There are no IT projects, but only business projects, even if you include infrastructure upgrades. If we move away from adversarial attitude to collaborative, a lot can be achieved.

As my colleague Ann has written, making the CFO's job easier can pay off in many ways.

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