Survey: CIOs Must Show They Mean Business

CIOs are becoming agents of business, but it's still not enough to bridge the business/IT gap.

CIOs are becoming agents of business, not just facilitators, but according to a recent study this transition is still not enough to bridge the gap between business and technology.

The survey, conducted by IBM of 170 CIOs and released June 19, found most in the CIO role—84 percent—said their job has evolved beyond technology infrastructure and computing support to creating strategy and helping transform the business. But only 16 percent said their companies have done enough for the business to take full advantage of IT.

IBM put the onus on the CIO to step forward and bridge this gap.

"CIOs need to play a more active role in participating in business discussion, to take this notion of CIOs becoming business leaders and consider what they could do to help their companies achieve that objective," said George Pohle, vice president and global leader for the institute for business value at IBM.

"Its up to the CIO to be able to come to the table with good examples of what they can do. They shouldnt just ask to sit at the table and expect that they will think of good ideas while they are there," Pohle said.

"They need to be able to suggest additional strategies that will make a difference. If you can go to the business executives with that kind of proactive approach, youll have more success."

Pohle said that CIOs are feeling the most shut out at the strategizing level of a business operation. Resistance to change on the part of business executives was cited by CIOs as one of the things that made their roles the most difficult.

"They get a lot of business resistance when they try to get in early," Pohle said. "CEOs say that they think that business and IT alignment is important, yet they are not quite sure how to integrate. Strategizing a project might be one of the most business-oriented discussions a company has, and it has become the last bastion of holdout for CIOs to break into."

However, CIOs do feel that they have had more success integrating business and technology on an operational level.

"This is less of an issue within core operations. Any time you want to do stuff with customer relationship issues, for example, a lot of that CIO-business integration is already happening," said Pohle.

/zimages/4/28571.gifReport: CIOs need to stop squandering their time. Click here to read more.

Not only is changing the way that technology is integrated into core business considered valuable on both sides, those that have done more integrating were found to be growing revenue 5 percent faster than their competitors. Furthermore, those that have better integrated the two areas report greater customer satisfaction, speed and flexibility than their less-integrated peers.

Though the CIOs surveyed believe they could address the gap by getting involved earlier in the strategic decision-making process, the survey encourages that CIOs still try to elevate their role within the organization and demand more business skills among their IT staff.

"The notion is that you cant wait for them to change to let you in the door. You have to take a proactive step to show them what you can bring to the table on the strategy side," Pohle said.

"The organizations culture is not going to disappear because someone reads an article, but it might when CIOs demonstrate they can do something different."

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