Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the newest addition to the C-level of executives in most businesses, as more understand the need for high-level technology decision making. However, a recent study suggests that, at many organizations, there’s a significant disconnect between how CIOs view their performance and how other C-level execs rate them.
According to EffectiveUI, 94 percent of CIOs believe themselves to have a strong or moderately positive impact on their businesses. Only about two-thirds of their co-workers agree with them on this, however. Further, only 39 percent said that their IT department regularly delivers on time and on budget. A paltry 31 percent believe that their CIOs maintain clear and easily understood standards for business use of technology.
What, then, might be the source of these disconnects? Consider these points:
- As with most highly technical fields, CIOs can have a hard time communicating their needs in a way that’s clear to non-experts. It’s difficult to convince other C-level execs of the need for something when the justification for it is jargon-laden technology reports on protocols and programming languages.
- Many executives fail to understand just how rapidly change comes to the IT sector. IT is virtually always playing a game of catch-up, and standards can shift practically overnight– such as when the wireless WPA security protocol was compromised and necessitated an expensive shift to WPA2-enabled systems.
- A lack of clear goals and decision-making was cited in the report coming from both ends: IT directors say they’re being given dozens of directives with no clear consensus on prioritization, and other C-level execs feel there’s a nonstop demand for new hardware and software.
- Jaded consumers and clients, accustomed to seeing the latest and greatest, are often quick to criticize website applications even when they’re perfectly functional but not particularly flashy. This increases the demand on IT to add costly bells and whistles.
All this points to a strong need for more integration between IT and the other departments. CIOs and other IT directors should be working to explain themselves better to laymen, and the other execs need to become aware that their IT staff will always be constrained by the realities of the ever-changing IT market.
In 2014 and going forward, internal communication and collaboration will be key to the successful integration of CIOs into the command structure. These problems are not insurmountable, but they will require some compromise among everyone involved.