by Chad Quinn

These 3 data points are transforming the CIO’s role

Jul 30, 2015
C-SuiteCIOIT Leadership

Recent research from Gartner and CEB point to a critical shift in the role of the CIO. In this new environment, how can the CIO best serve the business?

digital transformation
Credit: Thinkstock

The role of the CIO today is not what it was last year, last month or even last week. Over the past several months, I’ve had conversations with CIOs and CFOs to understand how the dynamic between the business and IT is changing. In the coming blog posts, I’ll share notable results of these conversations, insight that stood out from the conversations, and how CIOs and IT leaders across the country are adapting to this unfolding transformation in their organizations.

The CIO as a broker of value

Over the past eight months, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in group discussions with over 100 CIOs, CFOs and other IT leaders to pinpoint their current challenges, discuss opportunities for growth, and reveal changes they are seeing in their roles with the incorporation of disruptive technologies.

With the CIOs that I talked to, a common refrain occurred across many of our conversations. CIOs are asking, “How do we adapt? How do we serve our organizations better? How can we strategically equip the business through IT?” 

One primary theme across all of these discussions was the CIO’s new ability to fill a gap in the c-suite by acting as a value broker. The CIO is becoming more involved in showing the value of technology investments than ever before.

Three specific trends illustrate this shift:

1. The business is working directly with outside IT vendors

The business is bypassing internal IT to work directly with external providers. According to Gartner, 70% of business executives are willing to run their own technology projects, without internal IT involvement.

bus to vendor 2

2. IT budget control is shifting to the business 

Gartner also found that since 2000, IT budget control has been shifting to the business. By 2020, 90% of the IT budget is expected to be controlled by the business. What does this mean for IT? If the budget is shifting from IT into the hands of the business, IT will need to provide greater insight into the relevance and business value of each investment.

business and IT budget

3. IT investments are not achieving full value

Not only is the business in control of the budget, but they are not seeing the value of the IT investments they fund. According to CEB research, only 43% of IT investments achieve their full business potential. That’s a significant gap–but also poses a unique challenge and opportunity for the CIO. The business will continue to demand value from IT investments, and the IT organization will need to show this delivered value in order to earn future dollars.

IT investment

What if the CIO took this opportunity to step in and convey value between the business and IT? There may not be a more interesting time for the CIO to become an even more critical addition to the team by not only conveying the value between the business and IT, but by also ensuring that the full value is achieved. 

A Challenge and An Opportunity

I was recently discussing changes in IT with Andrew Wilson, the CIO of Accenture. At one point in our conversation, Andrew said, “the business is demanding technology and demanding value, and demanding it ever more quickly.” It’s clear that the link between value and IT investments is becoming a reality for many organizations, and a leader needs to define and strengthen this link.  Once the CIO understands how to deliver value to the organization, it can provide the business with clear connections to outcomes, supported and enabled by IT.

This is an incredible opportunity—and challenge—for the CIO. By conveying the full value of IT investments, the CIO has the opportunity to become an integral player in defining business strategy.  Will you step up to the challenge?

What are 1-2 challenges and opportunities that you see in becoming a value broker for your organization?