CIOs feel ‘out of the loop’

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A failure to understand and define the role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) is leading to a failure by companies to use their information assets to power innovation, strategy and growth, according to recent research by Cranfield School of Management and Deloitte.

The research highlights that, while the majority of companies have an IT director, too few have a CIO on their senior management team. The researchers reckon that a CIO should play a central role and ensure IT underpins business strategy but the study uncovered that the CIO role is poorly defined, confused and there is a lack of understanding of its scope. This lack of understanding isn’t just among other directors and senior management. CIOs themselves feel perpetually out of the loop and feel there is a lack of clarity in their roles.

According to Professor Chris Edwards at Cranfield School of Management, tensions rise between CIOs and their peers when the CIO is out of sync with the evolving business needs. “Frustrations occur in situations where an inappropriate CIO type is deployed,” he said.

However, its not IT expertise that presents a problem, says Professor Edwards. “Far more important will be the ability to lead innovation, drive change, develop information awareness and expand it across the broader organisation.”

The report concludes that CIOs’ alienation need not continue because an effective CIO will ultimately negate the need for a CIO position to exist. The CIO’s role is to create an environment in which information and technology are so intimately and fundamentally bound to every aspect of the business that the need for a CIO diminishes, says the study.

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.