Everyone is constantly making demands of the CIO. But no one ever asks what the CIO wants and needs in return.
By Shami Khorana
CIOs continue to find themselves under constant fire. They are called upon to be technologists and strategists, and are increasingly looked upon as service providers working to meet the needs of the various constituents and departments within their organization. While many have questioned CIOs’ viability, few have taken the time to ask what the CIO wants and needs as his or her position evolves.
Over the last year or so, we at HCL America have been asking CIOs what they want. We have conducted formal interviews of our customers in an online survey and had informal conversations in roundtable discussions. At first, some CIOs were taken back by our query.
After all, a CIO's customers—the business heads and end users—constantly say what they need from IT, such as zero down time, the perfect e-commerce solution, an elegant CRM strategy like the one they read about in an airline magazine, and they frequently complain how their needs are not being met. And, not surprisingly, IT vendors are glad to tell a CIO what they need, typically in the form of a solution they are selling.
But CIOs are rarely asked what they want or what they need—from stakeholders including top management, internal customers, IT staff and external partners—to create value for their organizations and advance their own careers.
Some of the items on the CIOs' wish list are logical requests, while others come as somewhat of a surprise.
With respect to top management, the most frequently cited request from CIOs is a willingness for management to treat the CIO as a business leader. Forty-three percent of the CIOs we polled view themselves as "value creators," with the next two largest groups considering themselves "collaborators" (16 percent) and "visionaries" (14 percent). This makes sense given that CIOs believe the top three objectives of their current roles include:
1. Transforming the IT model from being delivery focused to business aligned and engagement focused;
2. Increasing the pace at which innovation is rolled out;
3. Driving new business opportunities that deliver a competitive advantage.
From IT staff, CIOs want to see their teams gain a better understanding of the business and to proactively uncover new opportunities that create value for the business.
From internal business customers, CIOs want accountability and a sharing of responsibility for key initiatives, clear requirements and priorities, as well as clear and open communication for the alignment of goals.