CIOs: You`ve Got Clout!

Perhaps not since 1990, when BusinessWeek proclaimed “CIO Is Starting to Stand for ‘Career Is Over,'” has the CIO role and its importance been as hotly debated as it is today. While some say the CIO role is doomed to all but disappear, others argue that the role remains crucial for competitive differentiation.

With this survey, we examine the CIO role by framing the question as one of influence: What kind do CIOs have, and how much? To find out, we asked CIOs not only about specific roles and responsibilities, but about whether their influence is rising or waning, and the degree of influence they have over particular business, technology and spending decisions.

As a reality check, we posed similar questions to other IT executives and managers, with survey respondents totaling nearly 500. (We also conducted our usual benchmarks, such as career backgrounds, compensation, longevity, age and gender.)

CIOs don’t see their peers as leaders on par with other top executives. Still, nearly all CIOs have enormous influence over IT spending, vendor selection and decisions regarding business process improvement.

In fact, today’s CIOs also act much like chief process-improvement officers. Ninety-seven percent agree with Mark McDonald, Gartner Executive Programs group vice president, who says, “CIOs are now expected to deliver the solutions that make the enterprise different in a way that matters to company performance and customer satisfaction.”

However, only about half of CIOs–usually those with responsibilities for creating strategy–have any influence over important business decisions, such as which markets to enter or which companies to acquire. And one-third of CIOs think that as IT matures, the CIO role will decline.

Still, with the influence of CIOs apparently growing rather than shrinking, the CIO role will remain important for a long time–even if 80 percent of CIOs agree with Bobby Cameron of Forrester Research, who says, “The 21st century CIO will have little resemblance to the CIOs of years past, in background, time distribution and influence.”

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