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What Makes A CIO Effective?

There's consensus among CXOs, IT staff, line-of-business managers, and CIO themselves, and it boils down to three words: alignment, process, innovation.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
The good news is that most executives believe IT departments, both their own and those in general, are delivering business value to their companies. Also, IT departments are successfully accommodating business demands with the resources they have. And more than half of CXOs say CIOs are able to handle the demands of business strategy while managing their operations.

chart: What Tech Skills Matter\ For CIO Effectiveness?
-The bad news is that characteristics closely associated with the CIO of the future--externally customer focused, globally oriented--scored very low for CIOs in general. The percentage of respondents who identified an effective CIO with "visits often with company's customers" and "understands global competition" was in the single digits, and that was across the board.

However, the numbers are significantly higher when CXOs refer to their own CIOs, and they refer to themselves: A quarter of top tech execs say they visit often with their companies' customers, and 35% of CXOs agree; almost half of CIOs (48%) say they understand global competition, and 39% of CXOs agree. It could be that many CIOs already realize the importance of these externally focused efforts. More should.

Alignment oriented, process savvy, innovation driven, customer focused--these are characteristics that contribute to the overall effectiveness of the top technology executive. What else? "The ability to simplify complexity," says Weyerhaeuser's Mersereau, which is an answer that makes its own point: It simplifies the complexity of the question. And that makes us think Ms. Mersereau must be a highly effective CIO.

Illustration by Dan Page

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer