June 13, 2024


Your Partner in The Digital Era

Engineering professional to business enterprise chief: The evolution of the CIO

Main facts officers are frequently industry experts in engineering, but business tactic management distinguishes trailblazers from the rest of the pack.

Today’s IT leaders have to have to strike the proper equilibrium between technologies and small business tactic, a panel of professionals claimed at a latest webinar hosted by the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Many CIOs are more comfy with specialized innovation than with formulating organization method, embracing profits-technology tasks, doing work with boards of administrators, or driving adjust management. But these are all now vital elements of the function.

Analysis reflects the evolution of the CIO from technological innovation skilled to enterprise enterprise leader. According to CIO.com’s 2023 Condition of the CIO survey, a lot of CIOs are by now taking part in a strategic management function. Practically 3-quarters (71%) of respondents mentioned they count on to actively travel business enterprise innovation, create and refine organization tactic, and determine options for competitive differentiation over the up coming 3 many years. The study also found that CEOs believe CIOs must prioritize strengthening IT and business collaboration, and CIOs’ most crucial target is driving business innovation.

“At the conclude of the working day, IT is the company and the business is IT,” said panel moderator Shamim Mohammad, govt vice president and chief information and facts and know-how officer at CarMax. “They are all together, and eventually there have to have to be widespread targets.”

Nonetheless it can be difficult for CIOs to navigate the changeover from a engineering target to a broader business enterprise role. The panelists provided the subsequent suggestions.

1. Anchor all the things in business enterprise worth.

Tech leaders have a tendency to speak about technological innovation when they should really definitely frame options in the context of how they supply for the company. Far too several discussions solid IT projects as cost-reducing initiatives since such arguments are normally persuasive. Nonetheless IT leaders will need to go more and ground discussions about technologies with senior leaders in terms they fully grasp — anchored in business enterprise price and supported by return-on-financial commitment metrics.


In a 2022 survey, 71% of respondents explained they expect CIOs to travel business enterprise innovation and establish small business strategy.

“We referred to as it the a few-finger punch,” said George Corbin, an executive who has led innovation and business transformation at key firms like Mars Inc. and Marriott Worldwide, describing his tactics for presenting IT proposals to leading management. “We would primarily occur in and say, ‘Here are three specifics you need to know: We’re dropping share amongst the premier consumer section we’re shedding share to new intermediaries, which value us 10x for every transaction and our loyalty is dropping.’ We set the tone, showing we are anchored on key company requirements and how a digital proposal solves for it.”

2. Use storytelling and interaction techniques.  

A recitation of points, specifically very technical kinds, will not seize the attention of the C-suite — or the broader organization, for that matter. CIOs will need to make a compelling narrative that ties the technologies highway map to small business approach, which include how it addresses precise ache factors or advances important earnings aims. Corbin reported he the moment had problems producing a situation for an initiative, even while he was armed with a 160-slide presentation deck. By translating the very same argument into a four-moment video depicting how the initiative would enrich the customer knowledge, he was in a position to crack by means of and get the executive workforce on board.

Primarily during the pandemic, “CIOs had to broaden their qualities to talk and join with men and women,” claimed Maryfran Johnson, the host of CIO.com’s CIO Leadership Live video show and podcast. “And the way you link with men and women is typically by tales.”

3. Be obvious and encourage.

CIOs need to have to choose every single option to get out and connect the IT eyesight, no matter whether it is presenting at city halls or collaborating in board conferences. Portray a vivid eyesight of the engineering method not only drives purchase-in but also aids recruit champions across the business who will be crucial to achievements.

On a personalized entrance, CIOs ought to actively market their personal brand name, which include on social media internet sites like LinkedIn. “Don’t assume of LinkedIn as a resume web site but somewhat as a promotion for your personalized products,” Corbin claimed. “What is the benefit prop that you bring? That is what your LinkedIn profile should express.”

Johnson agreed. “For far better or even worse, [LinkedIn] is our qualified community in technologies,” she reported. “That’s where by you want to begin connecting with other CIOs.”

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She recommended individuals to choose a near glance at their social media profiles, due to the fact other men and women will. “Every CIO I know would like their organization to be a magnet for engineering talent,” she stated. “Where is tech talent likely to go and examine you out as a boss and see how usually you’re publishing? See what individuals are expressing about the items that you’re putting up about your workers and what they’re undertaking, the tasks you are doing the job on.”

4. Nurture trustworthy associations with C-suite friends.  

An understanding of the enterprise and solid communication abilities are the basis on which CIOs can build bridges to government crew counterparts and other places of the business enterprise. When Mohammad came onboard at CarMax, he didn’t start pitching major transformation or IT jobs. Instead, he put in time obtaining to know colleagues and associates to recognize what their agony factors have been and what issues the corporation faced. This authorized him to zero in on areas with the most small business influence. He also produced alliances with senior executives these as the main marketing officer and main functioning officer, which earned him fast trustworthiness with the relaxation of the leadership workforce. 

“Anything we did arrived throughout as a corporation initiative, not a engineering initiative, advertising plan, or an functions initiative,” Mohammad explained. “It began out with constructing good associations, getting mutual believe in, and focusing on prevalent difficulties that needed to be triumph over for the enterprise.”

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