December 9, 2023

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Know-how expert to enterprise leader: The evolution of the CIO

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Main facts officers are typically experts in technology, but organization method management distinguishes trailblazers from the relaxation of the pack.

Today’s IT leaders need to have to strike the suitable balance amongst technological innovation and company approach, a panel of professionals said at a new webinar hosted by the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. A lot of CIOs are a lot more relaxed with technological innovation than with formulating business enterprise system, embracing income-generation obligations, performing with boards of administrators, or driving improve management. But these are all now critical elements of the role.

Exploration reflects the evolution of the CIO from technological innovation qualified to enterprise business enterprise leader. In accordance to’s 2023 Condition of the CIO survey, quite a few CIOs are previously participating in a strategic leadership role. Just about three-quarters (71%) of respondents reported they be expecting to actively push organization innovation, build and refine enterprise technique, and identify options for aggressive differentiation above the following 3 yrs. The survey also located that CEOs imagine CIOs really should prioritize strengthening IT and enterprise collaboration, and CIOs’ most crucial concentrate is driving small business innovation.

“At the end of the working day, IT is the business enterprise and the enterprise is IT,” mentioned panel moderator Shamim Mohammad, executive vice president and main info and technologies officer at CarMax. “They are all together, and in the long run there require to be typical objectives.”

Nonetheless it can be challenging for CIOs to navigate the transition from a engineering concentrate to a broader enterprise job. The panelists provided the subsequent information.

1. Anchor anything in business value.

Tech leaders have a inclination to discuss about technologies when they must really frame options in the context of how they supply for the organization. Also lots of conversations forged IT tasks as value-chopping initiatives simply because such arguments are frequently persuasive. However IT leaders need to go more and floor discussions about technologies with senior leaders in conditions they comprehend — anchored in small business value and supported by return-on-financial investment metrics.


In a 2022 survey, 71% of respondents mentioned they hope CIOs to travel business enterprise innovation and establish business system.

“We referred to as it the 3-finger punch,” stated George Corbin, an executive who has led innovation and business transformation at important firms like Mars Inc. and Marriott Global, describing his ways for presenting IT proposals to best administration. “We would in essence come in and say, ‘Here are three details you will need to know: We’re shedding share among the biggest buyer phase we’re dropping share to new intermediaries, which value us 10x per transaction and our loyalty is dropping.’ We set the tone, demonstrating we are anchored on crucial business enterprise wants and how a electronic proposal solves for it.”

2. Use storytelling and interaction capabilities.  

A recitation of specifics, specially extremely technological ones, won’t get the consideration of the C-suite — or the broader company, for that make any difference. CIOs have to have to make a powerful narrative that ties the technological innovation street map to small business system, together with how it addresses certain agony details or advances critical income ambitions. Corbin reported he after had trouble making a circumstance for an initiative, even however he was armed with a 160-slide presentation deck. By translating the same argument into a 4-moment video depicting how the initiative would increase the buyer encounter, he was ready to break as a result of and get the executive group on board.

Primarily for the duration of the pandemic, “CIOs experienced to broaden their capabilities to connect and link with people today,” said Maryfran Johnson, the host of’s CIO Management Stay online video show and podcast. “And the way you hook up with folks is normally by stories.”

3. Be obvious and encourage.

CIOs want to get each individual possibility to get out and communicate the IT eyesight, regardless of whether it is presenting at city halls or participating in board conferences. Portray a vivid vision of the technological innovation system not only drives purchase-in but also allows recruit champions across the corporation who will be critical to achievement.

On a own front, CIOs should actively boost their have model, together with on social media web-sites like LinkedIn. “Don’t assume of LinkedIn as a resume website page but instead as a marketing for your personalized merchandise,” Corbin stated. “What is the benefit prop that you deliver? That is what your LinkedIn profile should express.”

Johnson agreed. “For greater or even worse, [LinkedIn] is our specialist community in technological know-how,” she stated. “That’s where by you want to get started connecting with other CIOs.”

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She encouraged men and women to take a shut glimpse at their social media profiles, since other people today will. “Every CIO I know desires their organization to be a magnet for know-how expertise,” she said. “Where is tech talent likely to go and test you out as a boss and see how generally you are posting? See what persons are saying about the points that you’re submitting about your staff members and what they’re performing, the assignments you’re performing on.”

4. Nurture dependable associations with C-suite peers.  

An understanding of the small business and robust interaction expertise are the foundation on which CIOs can construct bridges to executive workforce counterparts and other parts of the business. When Mohammad came onboard at CarMax, he did not start pitching large transformation or IT initiatives. Alternatively, he expended time finding to know colleagues and associates to realize what their agony points ended up and what troubles the organization confronted. This authorized him to zero in on locations with the most business enterprise effect. He also designed alliances with senior executives these kinds of as the main marketing and advertising officer and chief functioning officer, which acquired him quick credibility with the rest of the leadership team. 

“Anything we did came across as a business initiative, not a technological innovation initiative, advertising and marketing software, or an functions initiative,” Mohammad claimed. “It commenced out with building reliable interactions, having mutual believe in, and concentrating on widespread challenges that required to be overcome for the enterprise.”

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