IT Is too Important to Leave to the Technologists

It’s no secret that information technology is core to modern business. To make the most of IT investments and innovations, chief executives must understand how technologies enable their company’s competitive advantage. Yet how many of today’s CIOs are considered the leading candidates to succeed their CEOs? Precious few—a weakness that CEOs and their boards should consider changing.

Today, CIOs and their leadership teams need to understand their businesses as well as or better than the COOs, CFOs or CEOs. IT has become such a critical part of modern business operations that IT leaders must learn to play a key role in integrating their businesses to perform better in the marketplace. Their responsibilities include helping to create sustainable competitive advantages through strong business models, great customer relationships, quality products and services and improved capabilities that promote a distinct ease of doing business.

For chief executives, the key takeaway is to ensure your CIO is developing the skills and knowledge to work across all business functions and operating units. At the same time, consider requiring all high potential leadership candidates to spend part of their careers in IT—transforming IT leadership teams into a crucible for future business leaders, rather than simply a group of the best technologists that have risen through the ranks. When the CIO role is seen as a key potential successor to the CEO, companies will produce chief information officers who are more well-rounded business leaders with the ability to use IT to drive competitive advantages.

In Management Challenges for the 21st Century, legendary management thinker Peter F. Drucker wrote: “Every organization needs one core competency – innovation.” CIOs today have a key leadership role in driving innovation at their companies due to the integration of information technology throughout today’s modern business operations. There is no other C-suite role better positioned to drive value by working across business functions and operating units—integrating people, process and technologies in new and profitable ways.

Alan Kisling is managing director of Brand Velocity, an Atlanta-based consulting firm that specializes in helping corporate clients successfully design, implement and run large-scale reinvention projects using Peter Drucker’s principles.




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