Age-Old Question: to Whom Should the CIO Report?

Imagine if the strategic engine of the enterprise didn't report to the CEO.

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The question has been batted back and forth for nearly as long as there have been CIOs: To whom should they report? I won't keep you in suspense as to where I stand: CIOs hold a C-level position, and as such they should report to the strategic leader, meaning either the CEO or the COO.

Why do I believe this? I have several reasons, and none of them has anything to do with status. The simplest is this: Because information technology is the most powerful competitive enabler available to most businesses, its leader should not be relegated to reporting to someone who may have other priorities than the organization's strategic performance.

There are some exceptions to this, and I'll get to them. But first, let me articulate the primary reasons why having the CIO report directly to the CEO is the best arrangement.

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