A Formula for IT

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-02-09 Print this article Print

Failure"> A Formula for IT Failure CEOs in smaller companies (fewer than 1,000 employees) were generally happy with ITs role but had lower-than-average expectations as the companies grew, leaving the authors to conclude that a formula for IT failure was being created.
"This is going to be a concern as the firms grow, and its because they hadnt done enough when the firms were smaller to support expectations as they grew," said Orlov.
Superstar CIOs see bigger paydays. Click here to read more. The CEO-CIO gap will only increase as a company gets bigger, the authors concluded, worsening an already tentative situation. "Larger firms have more complexity in their environments and have a tougher job implementing new business changes quickly," said Orlov. CEOs and CIOs Advised to Fix It Forrester concludes that CEOs need to educate themselves about the role that IT and CIOs play in their companies or risk their companies falling behind their competition. To optimize success, CEOs should demand that CIOs do more than maintain the status quo by putting IT in a more leadership role, encouraging CIOs to take on more process change initiatives and backing the CIO in the face of the business units resistance to change. Forrester doesnt let CIOs off easily, however, calling on passive IT executives to boost their aspirations. CIOs who are resting on the laurels of low expectations are told to move IT practices to a higher level of maturity and stability, market the good things they do to their CEOs, and educate the CEOs and top executives who dont understand IT. "If CEOs arent happy with their CIOs, maybe they should think about how they hire them. But if CIOs are resting on the laurels of CEOs low expectations, they will further perpetuate them," said Orlov. "CIOs should make sure theyre connected to business strategy. If youre doing more than they can see, market what youre doing. If they dont understand it, educate them." Business-Background CIOs The root of the CEO-CIO gap lies beyond communication, tenure, company size and direct hires, some analysts argue. Simply put, it lies within the CIOs background. "The best CIOs I have been around have been businesspeople and not technologists. They came out of business and grew into the technology role. They often need a strong CTO [chief technology officer] to support them, due to the technological nature of their work, but they often come from finance or marketing. At that level of the game, you have to know how business works," said Lanzalotto. Thirteen CIOs talk about how theyve gotten where they are today. Click here to read more. The CIO job is really a business job, Lanzalotto argued, and the CIOs job is to come up with IT solutions for business problems. He or she must be able to speak in business terms to business people. "Ive seen CIOs the most successful when they have a mix of skills and a diversity of roles. Its the same thing on the business side—you need the heads of marketing to understand technology," Lanzalotto said. Yet, when the relationship breaks down, blame should be pointed in both directions. "When you have a technology issue, its not just the CIOs fault, and when you have a business issue, its not just the CEO," said Lanzalotto. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, analysis and commentary on careers for IT professionals.


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