If you’re like most CIOs, your chances of ascending to the CEO position are very slim. When the board is looking for a new captain, in most cases, you’ll see people who hold another senior management position — like chief operating officer or possibly CFO — as the prime candidates. The CIO is rarely included.
Weathington’s analysis matches the findings of a recent Gartner Inc. survey of 229 CEOs on the role of the CIO: Most CEOs believed their CIO doesn’t have what it takes to ascend to the boardroom. Gartner reported that CEOs (45%) see their CIO moving to a CIO role in another company. Only one in 229 of the CEOs polled felt their CIO was primed to be their successor.
This might be a disappointment to ambitious CIOs, but there’s still hope. Gartner’s survey revealed that CEOs are taking financial cues from their strategic changes. When asked to “select two roles that are usually most closely involved with supporting the chief executive in a strategic change to [the] business,” CEOs overwhelmingly selected the CFO (33.2% chose that role first, and 26.6% chose it second). The chief operating officer/head of operations was a close second (19.7% first choice, and 22.3% second choice) while the CIO and IT director roles barely garnered a nod in helping guide the business’ strategic changes (2.6% first choice, and 2.6% second choice). Even in this tough economy, CEOs need their trusted advisers to show them the money.
Gartner analysts commented that while they were not surprised the CIO wasn’t on the top of the list, “we thought that the CIO role might be more relevant.” Gartner analysts also noted that HR directors were seen as more important than CIOs, despite the realities of our technological world having a real impact on a business’ performance.
The takeaway here is clear: If they want to be considered credible innovation leaders and partners in their company’s strategic changes, it’s vital that CIOs look for ways to make sure that information and technology are playing a part in their board’s vision and driving their company’s fiscal growth.]]>
Over a decade ago, the company was looking at improving upon a common household chore: mopping. It studied how people mopped their floors by going into homes and watching them mop. Of course — just as I clean before our cleaning people arrive — their studied homeowners were pre-cleaning their floors before the P&G folks ever got there. Makes it kind of tough to study dirt when you’re cleaning a clean floor, right? The researchers had to get sneakier. They started arriving with dirty shoes and surreptitiously spilling dust as they showed up. At one home, a practical grandmother walked over to her roll of paper towels, wetted it under the tap and then spot-cleaned the dust off the floor. And in that moment, the Swiffer was born.
When the Swiffer came out in 1999, I was working at a big data company, helping Wall Street analysts understand the impact of the new products on stock share. We watched as the P&G shares hiked 130% in Swiffer’s first year. By 2008, P&G stock was trading at 37 times what it was before Swiffer’s debut.
When I heard the story of Swiffer’s innovation inspiration — the wet paper towel — the first thing I thought was, “My grandmother did that all the time.” It’s true: throughout the 70′s and 80′s, whenever we tracked in mud or dirt, she’d chase after us with a wet towel, erasing our footprints as we walked. Incidentally, my grandfather had worked in the P&G paper mills for his whole life, making that very same paper towel.
Just think: that innovation inspiration was right there at P&G’s fingertips back in the early 70′s. If only they had engaged a dialogue with their own employees about how they were using the products in real life. Think of the impact on their fiscal health if those gains had been realized 20 years sooner.
Chances are that your next great IT innovation has already been discovered by the people you see every morning when you get your coffee in the cafeteria. Your employees are already doing things, right now, that might change the face of your business tomorrow. It’s up to the CIO to tease that innovation inspiration out and into something that can benefit your bottom line.]]>
Ali said he did a Web search and found many IT publications like SearchCIO-Midmarket.com focused on business alignment, but only a single mention of the term business alignment in the publications of other business revenue streams such as human resources and marketing.
“The right question is not ‘How do you ensure IT is aligned with the business?’ It’s ‘How do we generate business value?’ Because that’s what the head of HR is asking. They already assume they’re aligned. This is the question that you should be asking,” said Ali during the keynote.
Ali’s biggest tip is that CIOs should stop thinking like CIOs and think like CEOs instead — focusing on growing revenues and profits while staying legal and being a good corporate citizen. The key to generating business value, he added, is in allying with the right partners and making strategic leaps, such as getting away from owning IT architecture and instead own the architecting of said systems.
This call to action was echoed by Forrester Research Principal Analyst Marc Cecere, who warns that “IT is in danger of being perceived as irrelevant to the business.” With consumers feeling more and more comfortable with making technological decisions, and with younger workers empowered to download their own solutions off the grid, I humbly suggest that we’re seeing the stirrings of a coup that will change the face of business. That transition is going to be measured, not in decades but in fiscal quarters. It’s Moore’s Law; only instead of hardware, it’s a mental leap for your workforce.
The message is clear: Stop worrying about business alignment and worry about the burgeoning IT revolution. Now the choice is yours: Lead, follow or get out of the way.]]>