Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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6/18/2009
07:52 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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CIOs Belong On The Board -- Or Else They're Just IT Managers

"Having faced the humiliation of having their IT budgets unilaterally cut, [some CIOs] are now in a tail spin that will ultimately have serious business consequences." Sound familiar? IT consultant Ade McCormack says that unless such CIOs are willing to accept the job of IT manager, they need to heed his "call to arms for a 21st-century CIO."

"Having faced the humiliation of having their IT budgets unilaterally cut, [some CIOs] are now in a tail spin that will ultimately have serious business consequences." Sound familiar? IT consultant Ade McCormack says that unless such CIOs are willing to accept the job of IT manager, they need to heed his "call to arms for a 21st-century CIO."Writing in the U.K.'s Financial Times, McCormack says that these 21st-century CIOs need to stop being so operational while simultaneously becoming more assertive about delivering - not just asking for - true leadership responsibilities. As McCormack puts it:

"Stripped of influence, the CIO is consigned to managing operational aspects of the IT function. In other words, they are an IT manager. In my view, both business leaders and CIOs need to reflect on this, because as it stands, CIO means Chief "IT Manager" Officer, or Citmo.

"So what organisations actually need is a role that links the Citmo (sounds like a command issued to a badly behaved dog) to the boardroom. I propose that this role be called the CIO. Sounds familiar?

"But this time around it is a board level position and the incumbent does actually influence organisational strategy. The converse is that the role is not operational. This 21st century CIO will play an active role today in using new technologies to save, grow and change the business. Not just in running it."

Nothing terribly new or revolutionary here but McCormack is always an engaging, thoughtful and perceptive observer of the CIO profession and the strategic, interpersonal, and technical elements that make it such a challenging role.

And as baleful as the opening excerpts above from McCormack might appear, he is not a doomsday prophet for the CIO profession - far from it, as evidenced by the headline on his column: "Boardroom debate: A call to arms for a 21st century CIO." I recommend his column for anyone involved at or aspiring to the CIO level - and you can check out more of McCormack's writing at his blog.

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