Technology pro to business leader: The evolution of the CIO

Chief info officers are generally authorities in technologies, but organization technique management distinguishes trailblazers from the rest of the pack.

Today’s IT leaders want to strike the suitable stability involving technology and company technique, a panel of industry experts explained at a current webinar hosted by the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Several CIOs are extra comfortable with specialized innovation than with formulating organization tactic, embracing earnings-era duties, performing with boards of directors, or driving adjust administration. But these are all now important sections of the part.

Study displays the evolution of the CIO from technology skilled to company company leader. In accordance to’s 2023 Condition of the CIO survey, lots of CIOs are presently actively playing a strategic management position. Practically three-quarters (71%) of respondents explained they anticipate to actively travel organization innovation, acquire and refine enterprise strategy, and determine prospects for aggressive differentiation above the subsequent three a long time. The survey also identified that CEOs imagine CIOs must prioritize strengthening IT and company collaboration, and CIOs’ most vital concentration is driving small business innovation.

“At the close of the working day, IT is the enterprise and the business enterprise is IT,” mentioned panel moderator Shamim Mohammad, govt vice president and main details and technologies officer at CarMax. “They are all together, and eventually there will need to be popular targets.”

But it can be tricky for CIOs to navigate the changeover from a technological innovation target to a broader business part. The panelists presented the subsequent suggestions.

1. Anchor anything in business benefit.

Tech leaders have a inclination to chat about technologies when they should really actually frame solutions in the context of how they deliver for the organization. As well lots of conversations solid IT tasks as price-reducing initiatives mainly because these kinds of arguments are usually persuasive. Still IT leaders need to have to go even further and ground conversations about know-how with senior leaders in conditions they understand — anchored in small business value and supported by return-on-financial commitment metrics.


In a 2022 survey, 71% of respondents mentioned they count on CIOs to push organization innovation and produce business technique.

“We known as it the three-finger punch,” said George Corbin, an government who has led innovation and business enterprise transformation at important companies like Mars Inc. and Marriott Worldwide, describing his techniques for presenting IT proposals to major management. “We would basically arrive in and say, ‘Here are 3 info you need to have to know: We’re getting rid of share amongst the premier purchaser phase we’re dropping share to new intermediaries, which cost us 10x for each transaction and our loyalty is dropping.’ We established the tone, showing we are anchored on key business needs and how a electronic proposal solves for it.”

2. Use storytelling and interaction skills.  

A recitation of details, primarily remarkably complex types, won’t grab the interest of the C-suite — or the broader organization, for that make any difference. CIOs need to create a compelling narrative that ties the technological innovation street map to business enterprise technique, including how it addresses particular soreness factors or advances essential income targets. Corbin stated he after had trouble making a situation for an initiative, even although he was armed with a 160-slide presentation deck. By translating the very same argument into a four-minute video depicting how the initiative would greatly enhance the purchaser working experience, he was ready to crack by way of and get the government staff on board.

Particularly during the pandemic, “CIOs had to broaden their talents to converse and connect with people,” stated Maryfran Johnson, the host of’s CIO Leadership Dwell movie display and podcast. “And the way you hook up with individuals is generally through stories.”

3. Be obvious and inspire.

CIOs need to get each and every opportunity to get out and converse the IT eyesight, no matter whether it is presenting at city halls or taking part in board conferences. Painting a vivid vision of the technology tactic not only drives obtain-in but also aids recruit champions across the organization who will be crucial to good results.

On a individual front, CIOs should really actively endorse their personal manufacturer, including on social media web sites like LinkedIn. “Don’t feel of LinkedIn as a resume web page but fairly as a promotion for your own product or service,” Corbin reported. “What is the value prop that you deliver? Which is what your LinkedIn profile really should convey.”

Johnson agreed. “For greater or worse, [LinkedIn] is our specialist network in engineering,” she said. “That’s in which you want to start out connecting with other CIOs.”

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She advised men and women to consider a shut search at their social media profiles, for the reason that other men and women will. “Every CIO I know desires their business to be a magnet for technologies talent,” she mentioned. “Where is tech talent likely to go and look at you out as a manager and see how often you are submitting? See what persons are indicating about the things that you are putting up about your workers and what they’re performing, the projects you’re working on.”

4. Nurture reliable interactions with C-suite friends.  

An comprehending of the business enterprise and sturdy interaction expertise are the basis on which CIOs can make bridges to executive crew counterparts and other areas of the business. When Mohammad arrived onboard at CarMax, he didn’t start out pitching large transformation or IT assignments. Alternatively, he used time obtaining to know colleagues and partners to comprehend what their discomfort factors have been and what troubles the corporation faced. This allowed him to zero in on locations with the most business enterprise affect. He also designed alliances with senior executives this sort of as the main internet marketing officer and main operating officer, which gained him prompt credibility with the relaxation of the management group. 

“Anything we did came throughout as a firm initiative, not a engineering initiative, promoting software, or an operations initiative,” Mohammad mentioned. “It started out out with constructing solid relationships, having mutual belief, and focusing on frequent troubles that necessary to be get over for the company.”

Examine up coming: Who owns electronic innovation? Who cares?