Conclusion 01

Conclusion 01: Background

The typical CIO reports to the CEO, and earned his or her most advanced college degree in business rather than computer science. Still, most CIOs are career technologists. The majority have risen through the IT ranks, have twice as many years in IT than in business roles, and—especially in large companies—came from another IT position. Given that "technology acumen" is the least important of the 13 personal attributes we ranked, it suggests that most CIOs have outgrown their technology backgrounds.

The IT execs in our survey maintain high positions on the corporate ladder. Most respondents, 64%, are the top IT executives in their companies, and 82% are in a centralized IT group. Of our CIOs (defined as the top IT executive in a company or business unit), 58% report to the CEO and another 38% report to the COO or CFO. Fifty-six percent of all respondents report on a dotted-line basis to the CEO, CFO or COO.

CIOs are more likely to have advanced degrees and business diplomas than other IT executives: Forty-nine percent of CIOs have a master's or Ph.D., compared with 40% of other IT executives, while for business degrees the figures are 49% and 32%, respectively.

IT execs have climbed the IT organization ladder: They were in IT positions immediately before their current job 75% of the time (69% for CIOs). The lion's share of their IT experience is as an IT exec (30%) or IT manager (29%).

CIOs have considerable IT experience. They have been in the IT department for a mean of 15 years—16 for large companies, 14 for smaller firms. CIOs on average have 8 years of experience in fields other than the IT department; this includes CIOs whose last position was in a non-IT role.

Of the 25% of IT executives whose last job was in a non-IT position, 26% held director positions and 21% were vice presidents of a business unit or division, with only 8% holding another CXO position such as CEO or COO. As for functional area backgrounds, of those coming from non-IT positions, 20% came from finance, with operations and consulting each at 14%.

Many IT executives have international experience. A surprising 44% of IT executives have had substantial international responsibilities, with 37% having actually worked overseas.

This article was originally published on 04-15-2002
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