by Balaji Narasimhan

Can a CIO be more strategic than a CEO?

May 08, 2016
AnalyticsApplication IntegrationBusiness

Thanks to business analytics, it is possible for the CIO of a company to take strategic decisions that may one day impact a company more than a CEO.

Writing a piece called The 10 Greatest CEOs of All Time, Bruce Msimanga, president / success coach at DLA-C says that in 1981, Lee Lacocca took over at Chrysler and David Maxwell sat in the driver’s seat at Fannie Mae. “…by the time both men retired in the early 1990s, Maxwell’s Fannie Mae had beaten the stock market at a rate more than twice that attained by Chrysler under Iacocca,” says Msimanga.

The above concerns two CEOs—my question is, will you one day have a CIO of a company who has done more for the company than a CEO? Normally you wouldn’t expect to hear of something like this, but a news item I saw today Toys “R” Us hires CIO to boost ecommerce, customer tech gave me some hope that one day this too is possible.

Toys “R” Us has named Phil Newmoyer as its new CIO. The company, a traditional brick-and-mortar outfit founded in 1948, is struggling to compete with and other ecommerce retailers. The company feels that Newmoyer will help woo customers.

Companies that once upon a time replaced CEOs in search of growth are now understanding the role that a CIO plays.

Newmoyer has been hired for some operational reasons too—Toys “R” Us is implementing Oracle ATG software and Newmoyer’s IT team at Serta Simmons, his previous employer, won the 2015 Oracle Excellence Award for Fusion Middleware Innovation. Obviously, Toys “R” Us is hoping that his expertise with Oracle software will ensure that implementation is smooth.

The interesting thing here is that, companies that once upon a time replaced CEOs in search of growth are now understanding the role that a CIO plays in this area. Take this further and you could one day find a CIO using business analytics beating even his CEO when it comes to decision making.

Think I’m exaggerating? Just take a look at the Harvard Business Review’s piece The Best-Performing CEOs in the World published in November 2015. Leading the list is Novo Nordisk’s Lars Rebien Sørensen, who bet the company almost exclusively on just diabetes.

Could a CIO have taken this decision to concentrate on just one disease? I like to believe that, given the right analytics showing the global spread of diabetes, yes, it is possible.

And I hope, dear reader—if you are a CIO or planning to be one—you prove me right one day by beating your CEO. And I hope too that you perform better than Maxwell and get more recognition than Lacocca.