by Ishan Bhattacharya

CIOs Have to be Business Savvy to Get On Board

Aug 21, 20142 mins
AnalyticsBig DataBusiness

Ability to manage people, bring in change, and take substantial interest in business processes are few things a CIO needs to make it to the board.  

There was a time when the world of a CIO revolved around the four walls of the IT department. Engrossed by the complexities of the ever-changing technology, CIOs found it extremely difficult to jump to opportunities that would help them understand business functions better and there by reserve a place on the boards. Earlier CIOs dealt with 0s and 1s. But things have changed over the years. A lot of CIOs today are bold enough to harbor the ambition of visualizing themselves on the board of their enterprise. In the contemporary world, the advantages that technology can provide to an enterprise cannot be sidelined. As big data and analytics come on to the forefront, and customer experience and satisfaction is of prime importance, the role of CIO extends beyond the limitations of an IT department. This has made it possible for CIOs to become customer-centric and adapt to business roles. But every leader, be it a CIO or any other executive, must possess specific skills to make it to a company’s board. “In order to find a place on the Board, a CIO should have the ability to create and manage change. A CIO should also be business savvy and at the same time have a visionary outlook coupled with constant and consistent customer focus,” says Rajat Sharma, president–IT, Atul. The term ‘managing’ gathers a lot of importance when we talk about a business role which deals with taking a holistic view of an enterprise and leading it from the front. “The major leadership skills that are needed to thrive on a Board—managing people, harboring the ability to market ideas, and having skills that can quickly help align and supplement IT with business,” Sharma says. The board looks out for business efficiencies. But, there is one edge which a CIO has, which no other leadership role is exposed to and that is the ability to meticulously understand how a business is performing. “There is no portfolio apart from that of a CIO which has an all-round and in-depth knowledge of business and its performance statistics,” says Sharma.