by Lorraine Cosgrove Ware

CIO ROLE – Survey Says: Deliver ROI

Jun 15, 20022 mins

The forward-looking, visionary CIO may be out of style for the moment. A visionary CIO is one who asks where the business is going and envisions how to apply technology three to five years out, according to John J. Davis, president of New York City-based executive search firm John J. Davis & Associates. “This presupposes that the business is looking ahead three to five years, which may not be the case right now.” In fact, the CIO most likely to get hired now is pragmatic, diagnostic and has a proven track record of delivering on time and on budget.

A recent survey of 138 business executives conducted by, an online sister publication to CIO, found that while businesses still expect IT to help them stay ahead of the competition, they also rely on IT to improve the bottom line. panelists indicated the top goals for IT in the coming year are to increase competitive advantage, reduce cost and improve efficiency, in that order. Executives listed more externally focused goals for the previous year, including empowering employees with access to information and improving customer service. When asked how executives determine whether IT is delivering value, the panelists in the December and January polls consistently listed reduced cost and improved productivity.

“A few years ago, CIOs were guiding organizations into the future. Now the focus is on return for shareholders and improving business processes today, not 12 months down the road,” he says. Still, the visionary CIO will be back in vogue one day, according to Davis. “CIOs have to have both visionary skills and delivery skills. The visionary skills are just not being called upon strongly right now,” he says.

Greater Expectations

Empower employees with access to information 50% 28%
Create/increase competitive advantage 43% 46%
Improve customer service 43% 37%
Reduce cost of doing business 41% 43%
Improve efficiency 41% 41%
Improve employee productivity 35% 35%
Empower customers with access to information 26% 31%
Generate more revenue 21% 34%
Other 4% 6%

Source:, an online sister publication to CIO, January 2002. For the latest poll, visit