By Dave Hannon
Before the head of the IT organization gained a spot on the executive team, they were looked at more as the director of geekdom and less as a strategic business driver. “Just keep our network up and my PC working and we’ll all be happy,” was the typical mentality of the C-suite towards the head of IT.
Well those days are gone. Today, the head of technology at most companies has a C-title (CIO or CTO), has a more business-focused background, and is recognized as a competitive differentiator in the enterprise, especially at a time when businesses are keenly focused on doing more with less.
Certainly, CIOs are being tasked with strategic cost reduction initiatives such as energy cost reduction in the data center. And as I previously blogged about here, CEOs are looking to their CIOs for more revenue-generation ideas.
But another example is the CIO’s role as organizational change agent. According to a recent survey of executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit in cooperation with Cognizant Business Consulting, only CEOs ranked higher than CIOs as the person who should lead the compan
y’s efforts to create a more virtual workforce, a clear competitive advantage for global companies.
”The virtualization of people, processes, and technologies is resulting in faster time to market while unleashing innovation," said Malcolm Frank, senior vice president, strategy at Cognizant. The EIU/Cognizant report points out that “CIOs are familiar with the people, tools, technologies and techniques needed to create a corporate culture of virtual teams. And as members of the C-suite, CIOs are familiar with long-term strategic goals, which is essential in crafting an enduring new structure.”
The key to making the CIO role more strategic in your enterprise? Free them from the day-to-day IT work through delegation or outsourcing. According to a recent survey from the CIO Executive Council, more than 90 percent of CIOs polled want to focus on business strategy, but feel improving IT operations and systems performance is taking most of their time.