Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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8/22/2007
03:07 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Fresh Data On Whom The CIO Reports To--CEO Or CFO?

If the CIO reports to the CFO, is that a red flag for IT's role at the company? Does it suggest IT's considered a cost center, not an innovation engine? I've listened to surprisingly passionate discussions about this topic, and we've got some fresh data about how common it is.

If the CIO reports to the CFO, is that a red flag for IT's role at the company? Does it suggest IT's considered a cost center, not an innovation engine? I've listened to surprisingly passionate discussions about this topic, and we've got some fresh data about how common it is.Out of 500 companies in our research, 46% of CIOs report to the CEO or president, 24% report to the CFO, and 13% report to the chief operating officer. This covers more than eight of 10 companies; the rest are scattered among other reporting structures. (The data comes from a peek at a preliminary report about our annual InformationWeek 500 ranking, which we publish Sept. 10.)

My first inclination has always been that this issue says more about the CEO's style -- how many people that person wants reporting in -- than about how IT is really viewed at a company. Does the CEO understand and respect the role IT plays? Are IT capabilities considered in discussions of new business initiatives? Are line-of-business managers, and not just IT, held accountable for the interplay needed to make projects work? Those are the kind of measures that matter.

But perhaps I'm hopelessly naive, and just don't have enough faith in the irrepressible power of the org chart. Too many IT leaders consider CIO-reporting-to-CFO a warning sign to dismiss it out of hand. They feel very strongly that, without the CIO reporting to the top exec, IT can't have an adequate seat at the table in setting strategy. A CIO blog post from earlier this year offers survey data on the topic and concludes IT is more tactical and compliance-oriented when reporting to the CFO.

Tell us what you think, from your experiences working in organizations with different structures. Are you wary of an IT organization where the CIO reports to someone other than the top dog?

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