Technological know-how qualified to business enterprise leader: The evolution of the CIO

Technological know-how qualified to business enterprise leader: The evolution of the CIO

Chief information officers are usually specialists in technological innovation, but enterprise approach leadership distinguishes trailblazers from the rest of the pack.

Today’s IT leaders require to strike the appropriate balance concerning technology and company method, a panel of authorities claimed at a current webinar hosted by the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Many CIOs are more snug with complex innovation than with formulating enterprise approach, embracing earnings-technology duties, performing with boards of administrators, or driving alter administration. But these are all now crucial parts of the part.

Analysis reflects the evolution of the CIO from know-how qualified to enterprise enterprise chief. According to’s 2023 Point out of the CIO survey, a lot of CIOs are currently enjoying a strategic leadership position. Almost 3-quarters (71%) of respondents claimed they anticipate to actively generate small business innovation, produce and refine company approach, and detect options for aggressive differentiation about the up coming a few yrs. The survey also found that CEOs believe CIOs should prioritize strengthening IT and small business collaboration, and CIOs’ most critical aim is driving organization innovation.

“At the conclude of the working day, IT is the business enterprise and the organization is IT,” reported panel moderator Shamim Mohammad, government vice president and chief information and facts and engineering officer at CarMax. “They are all jointly, and eventually there will need to be popular targets.”

Yet it can be hard for CIOs to navigate the transition from a engineering concentration to a broader business enterprise position. The panelists provided the next assistance.

1. Anchor every thing in organization price.

Tech leaders have a tendency to converse about know-how when they should truly frame solutions in the context of how they produce for the organization. As well many conversations cast IT initiatives as value-reducing initiatives mainly because this sort of arguments are normally persuasive. However IT leaders will need to go additional and floor conversations about technology with senior leaders in terms they recognize — anchored in organization worth and supported by return-on-investment metrics.


In a 2022 survey, 71% of respondents claimed they count on CIOs to travel organization innovation and create business enterprise strategy.

“We identified as it the three-finger punch,” reported George Corbin, an executive who has led innovation and business enterprise transformation at main companies like Mars Inc. and Marriott Global, describing his practices for presenting IT proposals to prime administration. “We would essentially come in and say, ‘Here are 3 facts you want to know: We’re dropping share amongst the greatest consumer segment we’re dropping share to new intermediaries, which expense us 10x for each transaction and our loyalty is dropping.’ We established the tone, exhibiting we are anchored on important small business wants and how a electronic proposal solves for it.”

2. Use storytelling and interaction capabilities.  

A recitation of points, particularly highly specialized kinds, will not get the notice of the C-suite — or the broader business, for that matter. CIOs need to establish a powerful narrative that ties the technology street map to company method, like how it addresses precise ache details or improvements important earnings ambitions. Corbin claimed he when experienced difficulty building a circumstance for an initiative, even however he was armed with a 160-slide presentation deck. By translating the identical argument into a 4-minute video depicting how the initiative would enhance the buyer working experience, he was ready to break by and get the govt group on board.

Specially all through the pandemic, “CIOs had to broaden their talents to talk and connect with persons,” stated Maryfran Johnson, the host of’s CIO Leadership Dwell movie display and podcast. “And the way you join with people today is frequently by means of stories.”

3. Be obvious and inspire.

CIOs need to acquire every single prospect to get out and connect the IT vision, whether or not it’s presenting at city halls or collaborating in board meetings. Portray a vivid vision of the technological know-how strategy not only drives acquire-in but also helps recruit champions throughout the business who will be critical to achievement.

On a private front, CIOs ought to actively market their personal manufacturer, which includes on social media web-sites like LinkedIn. “Don’t think of LinkedIn as a resume website page but instead as a advertising for your private product or service,” Corbin claimed. “What is the value prop that you convey? Which is what your LinkedIn profile should convey.”

Johnson agreed. “For far better or even worse, [LinkedIn] is our experienced network in technological innovation,” she explained. “That’s the place you want to start connecting with other CIOs.”

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She encouraged people today to get a shut appear at their social media profiles, mainly because other persons will. “Every CIO I know would like their enterprise to be a magnet for engineering talent,” she said. “Where is tech talent heading to go and check you out as a manager and see how typically you are submitting? See what people today are indicating about the factors that you’re publishing about your staff and what they are executing, the projects you are performing on.”

4. Nurture dependable relationships with C-suite peers.  

An understanding of the company and strong interaction expertise are the basis on which CIOs can create bridges to govt staff counterparts and other parts of the business enterprise. When Mohammad arrived onboard at CarMax, he did not begin pitching massive transformation or IT projects. Instead, he spent time receiving to know colleagues and companions to fully grasp what their ache points had been and what difficulties the group confronted. This permitted him to zero in on regions with the most small business impact. He also made alliances with senior executives these kinds of as the chief marketing and advertising officer and chief operating officer, which attained him instant reliability with the relaxation of the management workforce. 

“Anything we did arrived across as a company initiative, not a technological know-how initiative, marketing application, or an operations initiative,” Mohammad mentioned. “It commenced out with constructing solid relationships, owning mutual rely on, and focusing on widespread difficulties that needed to be defeat for the company.”

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