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CIO Influence Waning; Tech Execs Need to Step Up

cio.jpgCIOs need to step up their game if they want to maintain their influence. The Society for Information Management found that 31 percent of CIOs report to the CEO now, as opposed to 45 percent last year. Some CEOs are questioning whether or not their companies' even need a CIO now that business managers are taking on more responsibility for technology projects. If each individual department becomes responsible for its own technology without someone overseeing integration, that could obviously present a problem, so extinction is unlikely. But nonetheless, the role is changing, and according to Dave Aron, a VP of research at Gartner, "CIOs who want to step up must refocus the culture of IT, become more of a technology venture capitalist."

Because customers will increasingly have more choices, and because of globalization, companies will be forced to change their business models, says Krishnan, who with partner C.K. Prahalad is writing a book on the subject. As part of that transformation, CIOs have an unprecedented opportunity to seize control of their careers and help chart the future of their companies, he says. In order to innovate rapidly, a company's business processes must be docu- mented, understood, and governed, and where does responsibility for most of those processes lie in the modern-day, automated business organization? The CIO.

"It's IT that runs every business process today," Krishnan says. "And while the IT department takes the responsibility for running those processes--the applications are doing fine, transactions are going great--they don't take ownership."

But somebody will take ownership, he predicts, and soon. "As companies become global, this will become a critical position," Krishnan says. The overseer might be called one of several things: chief operating officer, chief process officer--or chief information officer. But if the CIO doesn't step up, he predicts, "the CIO will be subsumed."

(CIO image courtesy of Rob Lee, cc 2.0)
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