September 27, 2023


Business&Finance Specialists

Technological know-how pro to business chief: The evolution of the CIO

5 min read

Main info officers are usually specialists in technological innovation, but business technique management distinguishes trailblazers from the rest of the pack.

Today’s IT leaders need to strike the appropriate stability concerning technological know-how and business enterprise tactic, a panel of gurus claimed at a the latest webinar hosted by the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Quite a few CIOs are additional comfortable with technological innovation than with formulating enterprise technique, embracing revenue-era responsibilities, doing the job with boards of administrators, or driving transform management. But these are all now vital sections of the purpose.

Investigation reflects the evolution of the CIO from technologies specialist to company small business chief. In accordance to’s 2023 Point out of the CIO survey, quite a few CIOs are now actively playing a strategic management part. Approximately a few-quarters (71%) of respondents mentioned they count on to actively travel organization innovation, build and refine enterprise strategy, and identify options for competitive differentiation in excess of the up coming a few several years. The study also located that CEOs believe CIOs need to prioritize strengthening IT and small business collaboration, and CIOs’ most vital target is driving organization innovation.

“At the close of the day, IT is the organization and the organization is IT,” stated panel moderator Shamim Mohammad, government vice president and main information and technological innovation officer at CarMax. “They are all with each other, and in the long run there will need to be widespread objectives.”

Nonetheless it can be tricky for CIOs to navigate the changeover from a know-how concentration to a broader company job. The panelists offered the adhering to guidance.

1. Anchor all the things in company worth.

Tech leaders have a inclination to communicate about technologies when they should truly frame solutions in the context of how they deliver for the business. Also several discussions cast IT assignments as value-chopping initiatives due to the fact these kinds of arguments are usually persuasive. However IT leaders will need to go more and floor conversations about technological innovation with senior leaders in phrases they understand — anchored in enterprise value and supported by return-on-investment metrics.


In a 2022 survey, 71% of respondents reported they anticipate CIOs to drive enterprise innovation and build company technique.

“We termed it the 3-finger punch,” reported George Corbin, an executive who has led innovation and business enterprise transformation at key firms like Mars Inc. and Marriott Global, describing his tactics for presenting IT proposals to prime administration. “We would basically occur in and say, ‘Here are 3 specifics you want to know: We’re dropping share among the largest purchaser section we’re getting rid of 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 critical small business wants and how a electronic proposal solves for it.”

2. Use storytelling and interaction capabilities.  

A recitation of details, specifically very technological ones, will not grab the focus of the C-suite — or the broader business, for that matter. CIOs need to establish a powerful narrative that ties the technological innovation road map to enterprise approach, together with how it addresses precise soreness factors or developments important profits plans. Corbin said he as soon as had difficulties making a case for an initiative, even though he was armed with a 160-slide presentation deck. By translating the similar argument into a four-moment online video depicting how the initiative would boost the client encounter, he was able to break via and get the government workforce on board.

Specially for the duration of the pandemic, “CIOs experienced to broaden their qualities to communicate and link with people today,” said Maryfran Johnson, the host of’s CIO Leadership Reside video present and podcast. “And the way you connect with people is usually via stories.”

3. Be visible and encourage.

CIOs want to just take each and every possibility to get out and connect the IT eyesight, irrespective of whether it is presenting at town halls or collaborating in board conferences. Portray a vivid eyesight of the engineering method not only drives buy-in but also helps recruit champions across the organization who will be important to good results.

On a personalized entrance, CIOs should really actively boost their have manufacturer, which include on social media web pages like LinkedIn. “Don’t believe of LinkedIn as a resume site but somewhat as a advertising for your particular product or service,” Corbin mentioned. “What is the value prop that you deliver? That is what your LinkedIn profile need to express.”

Johnson agreed. “For superior or worse, [LinkedIn] is our skilled community in know-how,” she said. “That’s wherever you want to start connecting with other CIOs.”

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She encouraged persons to just take a shut search at their social media profiles, due to the fact other folks will. “Every CIO I know would like their business to be a magnet for technology talent,” she reported. “Where is tech talent likely to go and verify you out as a boss and see how usually you are posting? See what folks are saying about the items that you’re putting up about your employees and what they’re doing, the tasks you are doing the job on.”

4. Nurture trustworthy relationships with C-suite peers.  

An comprehension of the small business and powerful communication expertise are the foundation on which CIOs can make bridges to government staff counterparts and other areas of the enterprise. When Mohammad came onboard at CarMax, he didn’t begin pitching significant transformation or IT assignments. Relatively, he spent time getting to know colleagues and companions to realize what their discomfort points ended up and what difficulties the group confronted. This authorized him to zero in on parts with the most business effect. He also created alliances with senior executives these kinds of as the chief marketing and advertising officer and main running officer, which acquired him quick credibility with the relaxation of the leadership workforce. 

“Anything we did arrived across as a firm initiative, not a technology initiative, internet marketing plan, or an operations initiative,” Mohammad mentioned. “It begun out with developing sound associations, owning mutual have faith in, and focusing on frequent challenges that desired to be defeat for the business.”

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