‘CIOs need to push their way to the strategy table’

By : |December 24, 2004 0

With organizations increasingly depending on technology, the role of a CIO is fast changing. The CIO is expected to wear different hats, from being a technologist, focusing on IT-related issues like compliance, security, efficiency and so on, he is expected to be a complete business strategist.

Many CIOs feel that in today’s scenario, being just a technology person is not enough, the CIO is expected to talk, think and breathe business language. Change is inevitable and is constant. However to be the change agent, what a CIO needs is wholesome support from the CEO. More importantly, he needs to communicate to his people effectively by creating awareness and generating interest among users in the organisation and outside as well.

CIOs need to keep pace with Change-Change in people, process and technology. They need to act in prudence when it comes to technology decisions.

In this context, we bring to an interesting debate among our members on this topic as where to CIOs need to tread their path, posted on our discussion forum, for a wider read.

“ In this hectic world, one traditionally looks for technology skills in a CIO. Little thought and far less to their interests and the fresh ideas they bring to strategic decisions in companies. I in fact put this topic down as a devil’s advocate. While the push is definitely required almost always, it is not plain technology that will get a CIO heard,” says Christopher Stanley, IT-manager, ITC

According to Anjan Bose of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd, who feels that it will be hard to generalize and a lot depends on the ‘compelling need’ for automated, authenicated information in decision making and exception management. Companies which are successful ‘inspite of’ of the IT usage, looks at the CIO differently from companies which are successful ‘because of” IT’, he opines strongly.

He says, “CIO’s may need to ‘push’ their way to the “strategy table”. Unlike for the CFO and operational heads, things will not be on the platter for a CIO. A CIO must be seen as “business process designer” and not a ‘glorified techy’.

However, G Chandra Sekhar, CIO of MCF Ltd begs to differ. He says that, of late CIOs are expected to take part in Business Strategies of the company where in he is expected to have technical knowledge sufficient enough to guide and take strategic decisions. But, at the same time in depth execution knowledge is not necessary. Execution is delegated to lower levels or outsourced. How ever, he laments that it is painful that he/she does not get the same level of placing compared to CFOs and other functional heads.

During last C Change’04 event, it was clearly brought out that the CIOs have come a long way from being just tech savvy to being business savvy. Today’s CIOs need to put on ‘multiple hats’ and they have a tall order to in delivering value proposition to the organisation. The CIOs have created partnership with vendors, management buying and increased user participation.

Says Anand Kumar of Monsanto India, “ In our company, the CIO sits on the Executive leadership team and is seen as a business manager with a focus on fiscal management, business process reengineering and people management.”

“ I think the general trend is to have a ‘techie’ take on the CIO role but I would really think that while it is valuable, it sure would help if the person is a business manager and very adept at people management as well since in the IT arena – people are equated with company assets and it is key that people are managed well, “ he reasons out.

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