Business & Finance
Commentary
2/22/2004
08:57 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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IT Confidential: Bored With IT? No, Boards Need IT

Only a very small percentage of the world's 500 largest companies have CIOs or chief technology officers on their boards, according to a report released last week by Burson-Marsteller. The executive consulting firm examined biographical data about board members of the top 500 global companies, and only 15 of the 313 companies that release such data have CIOs sitting on their boards. Interestingly, companies headquartered in Europe or Asia are more likely to have CIO board representation than those based in the United States. Also, after the appointment of an IT-related director, the 15 companies with CIO board members delivered annual returns of 6.4% above industry averages, Burson-Marsteller says. "Information technology is strategically placed at the heart of the world's major industries, running most of their critical business processes," said Heidi Sinclair, chairperson of Burson-Marsteller's global technology practice, in a statement. "Yet, this study shows that most of the world's largest companies aren't receiving board-level strategic advice on how technology can address current and future business problems." The report also reveals that a CIO background is rarely a step to becoming CEO of a world-class company. Only 1% of the CEOs of the top 500 companies that provide chief executive biographies (five out of 351) have ever been CIOs. All five with prior CIO experience lead companies headquartered outside the United States.

Speaking of influence, Charlie Feld is starting to swing a big stick at EDS. The Plano, Texas, outsourcer acquired Charlie's company, the Feld Group, a CIO-for-hire services firm, last month and installed Feld as executive VP. Last week EDS named Feld Group veteran Keith Halbert as its new VP and CIO. And Halbert will report to Charlie Feld. Halbert joined the Feld Group in 1992; before that, he spent 10 years at CSX Technology.

AnnTaylor Stores, one of the largest women's clothing retailers, last week named Joe Caracappa as its new senior VP and CIO. Caracappa succeeds interim CIO Wolly Morin and will report to Barry Erdos, AnnTaylor's senior executive VP and chief operating officer. Previously, Caracappa was senior VP and CIO of Footstar, a retailer of discount and athletic shoes.

A judge ruled in the Laci Peterson murder trial last week that GPS technology used to track the movements of Peterson's husband after her disappearance was reliable enough to serve as evidence. GPS technology had never been tested in state criminal court, according to an Associated Press report, so "prosecutors had to establish its reliability and demonstrate the technology was used correctly."

Not a Windows-based system, I guess. Not that I have anything against Windows, it's just that if I'm tracking alleged criminal behavior I'd rather not get the blue screen of death. I'd rather get an industry tip, so send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about how to win friends and influence people, or the privacy implications of tracking technology, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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