What’s Next for the CIO Role

CIOs can advance their leadership roles in their company’s growth agenda

Lori Beer can talk technology as well as any IT staffer. While rising through the ranks to executive vice president and CIO at insurance giant WellPoint, she could dive into any discussion about software development or hardware standards. But her job demands more than technical savvy. Accordingly, she has molded her skills and those of her top team to help WellPoint achieve its business strategy—redefining how the company interacts with hospitals, doctors and patients in the new era of healthcare.

“We are accountable for making our products and services real,” says Beer, who in October was promoted to executive vice president of ­WellPoint’s new Enterprise Business Services organization (the group includes IT and the CIO now reports to her). Under the terms of the recent healthcare reform, individuals will be more involved in decisions about their care than ever before, Beer believes. The CIO’s job is to “connect all those dots to determine how we effectively balance managing risk as a company with bringing new consumer-facing capabilities to the table.” (For more on how to change how the C suite perceives the CIO role, see "Three Opportunities for CIOs to Prove Their Business Smarts.")

For advice about how to develop the leadership expertise you need to advance your role, visit the CIO Executive Council's Future-State CIO site.

Like Beer, most CIOs want to fulfill this business-strategist role. Eighty percent say that’s their goal, according to a recent survey that asked more than 200 CIOs about the future of the role, conducted by the CIO Executive Council (a global peer-advisory community founded by CIO’s publisher). Rather than spend their days in the details of IT operations and cost management, or implementing systems to support redesigned business processes, they want to work on business strategy and identify ways to incorporate IT into products, services and even new business models. Getting there, however, is hard work.

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