by Meridith Levinson

The Future-State CIO

May 03, 20073 mins

The CIO role is shifting from one that is largely focused on internal operations to one that is almost entirely consumed with business strategy and innovation. Are you prepared to meet these new requirements? 

Much of the 2007 CIO Leadership Conference was devoted to discussing the future of the CIO role and the ways current and aspiring IT executives can prepare themselves for it.

In a presentation titled “The Future State CIO,” Louie Ehrlich, the CIO of Chevron‘s global downstream business, and Marc West, H&R Block‘s SVP anc CIO, explained the work they were doing in concert with the CIO Executive Council (CEC) and executive search firm Egon Zehnder to describe the direction in which the CIO role is moving and to develop tools IT leaders can use to prepare themselves for what Ehrlic and West consider a tectonic shift. In short, in order to secure the future of the profession, the CIO role has to become much more focused on business strategy and innovation than it is today.

Most CIOs, Ehrlich and West noted, spend the majority of their time on operations, according to CIO’s State of the CIO surveys and according to research the CEC conducted. So-called Future State CIOs like Ehrlich and West devote the bulk of their energy toward understanding their company’s markets, customers, competition and developing and implementing ideas that will improve their companies’ performance. Ehrlich spent so much time hashing out a strategy for Chevron’s Global Downstream business in 2000 and 2001–while he was CIO–that he was named vice president of strategy (in addition to his CIO title) in the fall of 2006. West, who has experience running a P&L at H&R Block, has developed and implemented new go-to-market strategies.

The goal of the Future State CIO program and the tools the CEC and Egon Zehnder have developed is ultimately to help IT leaders and their teams bring more value to their companies.  The tools provided through the program outline the competencies IT leaders need to achieve this future state and define what an organization looks like when it is ready for its IT leaders to take on this new role.

The Future State CIO program consists of three parts:

1. Describe and Define. The first stage of the program lays out the core tools IT executives need in their professional toolkits to

function as a co-leader of the business.

2. Assess and Measure. The second leg of the program provides benchmarking tools (available through and the CEC that allow IT leaders to compare themselves with their peers and highlight the target ares they need to develop to prepare themselves for this new roleas a business strategist.

3. Advance and Educate. The CEC has created development and outreach programs to help the CIO community achieve its full potential and to make businesses realize the importance of elevating the CIO position.

Stay tuned for more information on the Future-State CIO. Later this month, and CIO magazine will be publishing a column on the topic, and I’m sure there will be much more discussion on the Future-State CIO.