by Edward Qualtrough

CIO reporting lines – 56% of CIOs report to CEO in 2016 CIO 100

Apr 28, 2016

Some 56% of CIOs report directly to the CEO in the 2016 edition of the CIO 100, an increase in the number of Chief Information Officers answering to the Chief Executive for the third consecutive year.

The CIO 100 showed a quarter of CIOs reporting to the CFO, with 10% to the COO and a further 9% to other titles. This included 2% into strategy directors, 3% with dual reporting lines of CFO and COO or deputy CEO, 2% to Global CIOs, a customer director, and a Chief Marketing Officer.

The 56% reporting to the CEO or equivalents is an increase of seven percentage points on the 2015 figure, while 43% also responded they were a member of their organisation’s board of directors, up from 37% in 2015.

Each year the CIO 100 showcases technology and business leaders driving change at their organisations, with CIO 100 leaders Andy Williams from Save the Children, Richard Cross from Atkins, and Sharon Cooper from BMJ having different reporting lines of CFO, strategy director and CEO respectively.

The 2015 CIO 100 had shown a significant decrease in the number of CIOs reporting into the finance line as the number of technology leaders reporting into strategy roles or matrix networks of CEOs, COOs and Global CIOs saw a bump. This was seen by the CIO 100 commentators at the time as further indication of the CIO role becoming more strategic with technology executives empowered to transform their organisations and invest in digital initiatives.

The CIO 100 judging panel and a number of CIOs themselves have said that while a direct link to the CEO is often desirable, technology leaders are able to significantly influence their whole organisations and executive peers from outside. A handful of CIOs in the CIO 100 also noted anecdotally that while board-level representation is held up as being one of the final recognitions of the CIO role as a strategic business leader, the reality of the responsibilities can be far less glamorous and should not necessarily be held up as a burning aspiration.

In 2014, a French CFO told CIO UK’s Pat Brans that the CIO should never report to the CEO, while a former CIO in the US who had served as head of Gartner’s IT consulting business in Silicon Valley estimated “around 70% to 73%” of CIOs reported to the CFO in a further interview with Brans. Dean Lane’s anecdotal “guess” has been universally discredited by respected pieces of CIO research, with Harvey Nash reporting this figure was less than 20% in its most recent global study which is in line with CIO UK’s figures.