by Chris Potts

Do Boards Think a CIO’s Aim is to Influence Spending?

Jan 28, 20092 mins
IT Leadership

If the board sees the CIO as someone who’s primarily interested in what the company spends, on IT or indeed anything else, will she ever earn their respect as a peer?

An article in this week’s Computer Weekly talks, quite rightly, about the need for CIOs to have good influencing skills at board level.  However, one of the interviewees seems to suggest that the CIO’s primary board-level objective is to influence spending:

“If CIOs are going to influence what a board spends, when they are presenting a business plan they need the recognition and confidence of the board that they can carry it through.”

Now, let’s say we are a board of executives and our perception of the CIO is someone with a business plan who is primarily trying to influence what the company spends.  And that same CIO wants to be treated as an equal, as ‘one of us’.  

But we are mostly concerned with influencing what the company earns in revenue and profits, not what it spends.  The CIO’s dual aspirations, as we perceive them, are inconsistent with each other.

Any executive, the CIO or anyone else, who seems primarily concerned with influencing spending can expect to be outside the inner circle.  To be in, the board at least need to know that you are first-and-foremost concerned with influencing what the company earns in revenues and profits. 

Like everyone else around the table the CIO is looking after some of the company’s spending, but that is not what she primarily wants to influence.  Is it?