Next Step CEO? - Page 2

Dec 27, 2006

Sourabh Hajela

In a survey of business and IT leaders, done by Accenture, only 11% of the respondents (both CIO and other business executives) consider the CIO as a business leader; only 29% of the respondents (27% of general business managers and 31% of IT executives) felt that the CIO’s primary focus is on business results

With this point of view CIOs might never get their hats in the ring.

To add to this, most CIOs perceive themselves as technologists. The highlight of the survey results, for me, was how only 11% of IT leaders saw themselves as business leaders!

Is the CIO role understood?

What led to this point of view, or shall we say, lack of respect?

I believe, the CIO role is not fully appreciated. A role that starts with a meaningless name such as “chief information officer” is bound to end up without impact.

The idea behind the CIO role, was to have a business person managing technology. It was not meant for a technology person who “knows the business.” It was meant for a business person who knows how to leverage technology. Call it “strategic skills” or by any other term, fact remains the CIO role is about business acumen not technology prowess.

A “real” CIO should be able to transition to the CEO ranks because not only do they possess business knowledge but also the savvy to leverage technology toward that end. This should be an effortless and welcome transition. It is about time we had technology savvy CEOs!

Are current CIOs business leaders?

Do current CIOs fit the job description? I would argue that, more often than not, they do not.

Let’s face it, there aren’t many business leaders with technology knowledge. Coupled with the misunderstanding of the role, it is often filled by a technology person with little or no demonstrated business skills.

By technology person I mean someone focused on technology implementation, often with a negative attitude towards strategy. “The last thing we need is a strategy,” is not the most desirable statement a “business leader” can make. While “getting it done” is important and critical, it is a step that comes after figuring out “what is the right thing to do.”

A misunderstood role, perception, and lack of business skills have led to CIOs being unappreciated. It should be a priority for CIOs themselves to get out of this vicious circle. One way for them to help themselves is by realizing the importance of business skills to their roles and developing them appropriately. At that time, they will have the votes needed to make the transition to CEO.

Sourabh Hajela is a management consultant and trainer with over 18 years of experience creating shareholder value for his Fortune 50 clients. His consulting practice is focused on IT strategy, alignment and ROI. For more information, please visit StartSmartS. Or feel free to contact Sourabh at .

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