by Edward Qualtrough

CIO reporting lines – CIOs experiencing close proximity to CEOs in CIO 100

May 03, 2017

Almost half of CIOs report directly to their organisation’s CEO, while 53% are meeting with their Chief Executive at least weekly according to the 2017 edition of the CIO 100.

The CIO 100 showed 48% of CIOs reporting to their CEO, 19% to a CFO, 16% to a Chief Operating Officer, 3% to strategy chiefs and 14% to other titles including Deputy CEOs, a Chief Digital Officer, dual reporting lines and matrix structures comprising of Global CIO roles.

CIO at HSE Ireland, Richard Corbridge, was recognised by the CIO 100 judging panel as the 2017 CIO 100 leader, along with Atkins CIO Richard Cross and Salford Royal Group’s Rachel Dunscombe.

The 2017 CIO 100 thus shows a small decrease in the number reporting to Chief Executives – down from 56% in 2016 – as well as decrease from the quarter being managed by finance leaders in 2016. The number reporting to COOs (10% in 2016) as well as matrix and dual reporting lines saw a small increase.

With half of CIOs had a direct reporting line to their organisation’s most senior leaders, the CIO 100 revealed CIOs, CTOs, IT directors and equivalents were enjoying a close proximity to CEOs as innovation, technology and digital transformation agendas are pushed up the agenda by chief execs.

Daily CIO-CEO meetings

While 81% of CIOs responded they were members of their organisation’s senior leadership team, only 28% were full board members. Furthermore, 11% of CIOs responded they met daily with their CEOs, 8% multiple times a week while 34% had weekly meetings.

Since 2013 CIO UK has reported the number of CIOs in the CIO 100 reporting to their organisation’s Chief Executive has remained between 48% and 56%, while the biggest fluctuation has been in those reporting into finance which has had a high of 30%. It must be remembered the CIO 100 showcases different organisations and sectors each year and should not therefore be treated as direct comparisons. In its 2016 global survey, recruitment firm Harvey Nash reported 34% of CIOs reported to the CEO – the largest number in the survey’s history – with 57% sitting on the executive board or the organisation’s senior leadership committee.

CIO 100 judge Jerry Fishenden said that these figures reveal more about CEOs than they do CIOs.

“It never ceases to amaze me how few CEOs have CIOs on their board – they either don’t care about the future of their business, or they are employing the wrong CIOs and aren’t getting the business value they need from them,” the former Deputy Government CTO said.

“This makes me question the capability and competence of CEOs more than it does the CIOs they employ.”

Ian Cox, a CIO 100 panel member and Gartner research director, noted that the reporting lines of CIOs have remained static which is a concern given the growing importance of technology to businesses.

Cox asked: “Perhaps the real question is why don’t more CEOs have what should be one of their most important executives reporting to them?”

The wrong type of CEO?

Agreeing with Fishenden, Cox queried whether CEOs are uncomfortable with technology or if they have the wrong type of CIO?

“In my view, it’s a combination of both,” he said. “Many CEOs have no reference point for what a strategic, transformational, business-focused CIO looks like. Hence in their experience CIOs still tend to be quite technically focused with little to the wider business beyond technology.

“So, while technology is growing in importance, CEOs need to limit their number of direct reports and they need to spend time with people that add value and, provide insights that are relevant to them.  And many still do not see their CIO as someone that can offer this contribution.”

Cox said that the onus was on the CIO community to demonstrate that they can be one of the CEO’s most trusted and valued executives, and someone that the CEO wanted reporting into them.

However, Cox said that it was promising that such a high proportion of CIOs were sitting on their organisation’s executive leadership.

“Being part of the team that runs the business, makes decisions about strategy and the business model, for example, is more important than membership of the board in most organisations, and possibly more relevant than reporting to the CEO,” he said.

“You can’t influence the direction of the business if you are not even in the room when decisions are being made. Being part of the exec leadership team means that CIOs are part of the discussion and the decision-making process. Ideally, the CIO would be part of the exec leadership and report to the CEO. Most seem to have cracked the former, they now need to address their reporting line.”