Technologies that provide cost efficiencies often can be decided upon by a department head. But when such decisions involve the strategic direction of the company, such as with cloud computing, mobile, data management and collaboration, increasingly, decisions come straight from the CEO. In fact, executive recruitment firm Russell Reynolds has created a core competency around finding CEOs who are tech savvy, and even designated 2013 as the year of the digital leader.
According to Gartner, CEOs today are interested in technology as a “factor of business.” This is a trend Gartner fellow Mark Raskino told Computer Weekly they haven’t seen since 2001. His comment is based on the results of a recent Gartner survey, in which the research firm asked CEOs to list their top five priorities for 2014-15. Technology came in fourth, behind growth, cost and profit.
In fact, chief information officers, more often than not, are reporting directly to the CEO today rather than an EVP or SVP, and are active members of CEOs’ leadership teams. Not surprisingly, CEOs responding to the Gartner survey felt that CIOs were directly responsible for innovation and change in their firms, Gartner told The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, at a Forrester conference in London last year, a company analyst asked a group of executives what they thought the top 10 things were that a CEO should do to ensure that his or her company successfully shifts to digital technology. Their answers included defining ownership and creating a business case. They even suggested having a techie on the board of directors and visiting Silicon Valley once a year to talk with disrupters.
It’s easy to see why many CEOs have the last word in determining which technology is a priority for their firm. From defense contractors such as Northrop Grumman to quick-serve restaurants such as Domino’s Pizza, making the right technology decision can mean the difference between leapfrogging the competition or falling behind them.
In the years ahead, there is no doubt that all CEOs will having an increasingly stronger technology background.