Friday, November 25, 2011

A CIO By Any Other Name

Caught another article on my Twitter stream today about an Aussie company eliminating their CIO as a member of the  senior management team. It seems they believe and the author agrees this position suffers from over-inflated importance and has consistently failed to deliver on the promise of better IT. So it has been renamed group services, relegated to the level of property, legal and HR services, and now reports to the COO.

Perhaps the recent financial crisis indicates a need to demote the CFO to the Head of Accounting and make him report to the COO, too. Far too many CFOs have failed in their fiduciary responsibilities and allowed investments in risky and even failed ventures.

I'm sure this will solve the problem. (sarcasm)

As I indicated in another column I wrote on the role of the CIO, the title is not the issue. It is how the person perceives their role and the relationship that the CIO has to other members of the C-suite that matters.  If the CEO expects the CIO to manage the computing systems and deliver system implementations on time, indeed, the role is Vice President or Director of Technology. Call it like it is.

The role of CIO should be much more broadly defined and empowered to change business process not just computer systems. Today's CIO is an enterprise architect and not just a systems architect. The CIO should be every bit a part of the senior management team, evaluating investments in all kinds of projects, leveraging technology where appropriate to achieve the goals of the company. Lower cost, higher value, better customer care, new products or services and the preservation of shareholder value should be among the top priorities and not the delivery of a new CRM or ERP system. The resources of the IT department should be brought to bear on these objectives by way of projects that involve hardware, software and business process.

I would love to have more insight into the operations and politics at this particular company to help me understand how eliminating an individual with the title CIO actually came about. It could truly be a failing on the part of the individual, focusing too much on technology trends and the latest "toys" or it may have been the result of an unhealthy environment where the CIO was expected to know how to fix a problem with Windows 7 or recommend the best cell phone for the CFO's daughter.

If you treat one of your race car drivers like a member of the pit crew and never allow him on the track, don't blame him for never winning a race.

Captain Joe

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