by Michael Friedenberg

CIOs Need a Wakeup Call

May 31, 20122 mins
CIOIT Strategy

Many CIOs think they're more relevant than ever before, but their CEOs often disagree. IDG Enterprise's own CEO is calling for CIOs to figure out how to better include innovation in their job descriptions

Dear CIO Community: Your world has changed, and I’m not sure most of you have noticed the shifts that are putting you at risk of becoming irrelevant. Excuse the blunt wake-up call here, but when I meet CIOs, many of you tell me that your relevance and business value have never been higher. I don’t believe your CEO would agree.

Given what our enterprises have been asked to do over the past few years, I know how well you have delivered on optimizing, standardizing and consolidating IT operations. Yet the game is changing. While saving money through IT efficiencies still counts, the main business focus is on increasing revenue and deepening customer engagement by getting the most out of IT.

When I talk to business executives such as CEOs, CMOs, chief research officers, procurement heads and board members, they say IT is a fine business enabler but that the real innovation is happening in marketing, sales and R&D. Their challenge to me is this: “How can we make ‘CIO’ synonymous with ‘innovation’?”

If you doubt how much our world has changed, just look at this chart (my own creation) and tell me that something momentous isn’t happening:

CIO progress chart

Now is the time to step up and prove you can drive innovation and move at the speed of business. It’s a magnificent time to be in the CIO’s seat, given technology’s ability to solve many of our greatest business challenges. What are you doing to make sure the “I” in your title stands for innovation?

I’d enjoy hearing from you, so please drop me a line at the email address below or contact me on Twitter (@mfriedenberg).

Michael Friedenberg is the president and CEO of CIO magazine’s parent company, IDG Enterprise. Email him at