CIOs Are C-Level Execs, But Are They?

CIOs Are C-Level Execs, But Are They?

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October 17, 2013
CIOs Are C-Level Execs, But Are They?

CIOs lead the IT initiatives of organizations large and small. Their role has transformed from being the head technical honcho to much more, and CIOs need to be part of any organization’s top-level executive force. But are they?

In a recent interview, Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon pointed out that the role of a CIO is largely a business role. They have to focus on customers, and customer service (and those customers aren’t just internal end users, but a company’s end customers). Congdon also noted that CIOs are responsible for business results, and for driving enterprise strategy. The interview also touched on how a CIO’s role has evolved, how IT departments are, first and foremost, service organizations, and more. The interview was done by, and you can read it here .

Last year, Ernst & Young released a great research report, The DNA of the CIO, that examined the skills, experiences, relationships and mindset that CIOs need in order to succeed in the role. The report is full of interesting findings, and is based on a survey of 301 senior IT professionals from Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America, Australia and South Africa. It also draws on in-depth interviews with a further 25 CIOs from these regions. Forty respondents from across the rest of the C-suite were polled to provide a perspective on how the CIO is perceived by the rest of the executive management team.

It’s important to note that Ernst & Young’s study found that many CIOs are personally and professionally satisfied with the projects and initiatives their current jobs provide. There are a fair amount, however that said they have their sights set high: one in ten, for example, have an eye on the top CEO job; and among the majority that said they are happy as a CIO, about half remain ambitious, with hopes that they will be invited to the top leadership table, according to the study.

With that in mind, it is disheartening to see that, according to the Ernst & Young study, still too many CIOs are C-level in title only. Less than one in five hold a seat at the top table, and less than half queried in the study said they were deeply involved in strategic decision-making. Nearly 4 in 10 CIOs cited overcoming a lack of support from the executive management team as one of the biggest barriers they face.

What do you all think? Is perception that CIOs are technical—rather than strategic—leaders, standing in the way of CIOs’ bonafide membership in the C-level suite? And what can be done to shift that perception, once and for all?

This article was re-posted from The Enterprising CIO authored by Beth Bacheldor on October 14, 2013

Beth Bacheldor has more than 20 years' experience as a writer and editor, much of that as a business journalist covering the high-tech and IT industries. She's interviewed CEOs and followed the business strategies of major tech companies, talked with hundreds of CIOs and IT executives, and researched and written about numerous hardware and software systems.

Today Beth works as a freelance writer and editor for numerous clients across the country. She writes for such publications as, Network Computing, IT FedTech Magazine, Government Computer News, RFID Journal and many others. She has also written research reports for companies such as Computer Economics and Enterprise Management Associates. She also does writing, editing and Web 2.0 projects for a variety of businesses including consulting firms, public relations and marketing firms, accounting firms, non-profit organizations and more.

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