The 3 faces of executive IT


When I was CIO at a banking institution, the board wanted to learn more about IT, even though no board member had a technology background.

Nonetheless, the questions they asked were relevant to the business. What do our customers want? How much do we spend on IT each year? What are our plans for moving forward with the technology over the next five years? How do we compare technologically to our competitors? Are our data secure?

CIOs across all industry sectors are often asked these questions, only now there are calls for CDOs and CTOs to also report to the board and CEO.

What changed ?

Digitization and a new valuation of data as an asset are two elements that have changed within companies.

“Enabling data as an asset requires a shift in mindset and approach,” KPMG noted in a report.

This focus on data and digitization has prompted many companies to add the position to IT management, as a high-level person must be responsible for all data accumulated, ensuring that it is both secure and leveraged across the enterprise.

To a lesser extent, companies also hire CTOs in management positions that interface with the board of directors.

The CTO is a technology innovator responsible for identifying and introducing new technologies that will make companies and their products more competitive. CTOs are most commonly seen in tech startups and in industries where products, services, and operations require advanced technologies (e.g., financial services, life sciences, pharmaceutical companies, e-commerce , etc.).

Companies employing CDOs and CTOs also have CIOs. They expect the CIO to be the primary operator of their IT business, continuously engaged with and on the business side of the business. With the CIO moving to a more business role (and how IT can help the business), there is less time for future technology research (the CTO) or checking usability, security and quality data (the CDO).

What companies expect

It is no longer enough for the CIO to keep the board informed of IT projects and status. Boards and CEOs want to know how well the company leverages all the data it paid to digitize (the CDO). If the company depends on technology as a competitive differentiator, the board wants to know what future technology investments (the CTO) look like.

Today, data has great potential to turn the tide in business. It can empower citizens, change the way government works and improve the delivery of public services. It can also generate significant economic value,” according to Phronesus Partners, an IT consulting and research firm.

What CIOs Can Do

A CIO might feel threatened by the addition of a CDO and CTO, especially if these positions are at the same executive level and report directly to the CEO. Ironically, however, the first person the CEO is likely to turn to for help is the CIO.

The CIO is often asked to help develop job descriptions for CDOs and CTOs and to interview candidates. In any case, the CIO remains at the heart of IT discussions, because every day IT is the heart that keeps the company running.

With that in mind, Here are three things CIOs can do to help the business meet its growing IT needs:

1. Form an active collaboration with the CDO and CTO

Most companies lack experience with CDO and CTO positions. This makes these positions (and those in them) vulnerable to failure or misunderstanding.

The CIO, who has overseen most of the responsibilities assigned to the CDO and CTO, can help ease fears and also benefit from cooperation. This can be done by forging a collaborative working partnership with the CDO and CTO, who will need help from the IT department. By taking a central and leadership role in building these relationships, the CIO reinforces the centrality of IT and helps the business realize the benefits of executive visibility across all three sides of IT: data, research into new technologies, and the development and operation of IT business operations.

2. Give the CDO and CTO their “due” if they report to you

Many companies choose to place the CTO and CDO in IT, where they report to the CIO.

Sometimes this is done upstream. Other times it’s done when the CEO realizes they don’t have the time or expertise to manage three different IT functions.

Not a bad idea since the CIO already understands the challenges of mining data and researching new technologies. However, it only works if the CIO actively works with the CDO and CTO in its organization so that they succeed together in fulfilling their role.

This means that the CIO may need to hand over some of the day-to-day and project responsibilities that they previously handled directly to other senior IT executives. This gives the CIO the bandwidth to handle day-to-day IT as well as the work of the CDO and CTO.

It is also a good idea for the CIO to periodically bring the CTO and CDO to CEO and board meetings so that the upper level of the company can be regularly briefed on the activities of the CDO and CTO and of their contribution to the company.

3. Drive strategy in operations

Part of the CTO’s job is to seek out and eliminate “unsuitable” technologies as well as promote other technologies to become part of the IT roadmap and the evolution of the business. In the CDO corner, there will be grunt-type projects like facilitating data quality and cleanliness, which are two precursor practices needed to prepare data for analysis and use across the organization. .

Much of this activity takes place behind the scenes and is of little interest to non-IT executives.

What the CIO can do as a business systems champion is to consciously link CTO and CDO initiatives to live project work and communicate regularly to business leadership and the board how research into new technologies and the preparation and exploitation of data impact project work and provide business value.

Last words

If your company does not intend to hire a CTO or CDO, the work performed by these positions should still be done in IT.

At a minimum, most CIOs will need to realign their workloads so that areas such as data quality and data mining, new technology research, and roadmap are handled as aggressively as management. projects and the development and maintenance of systems.

What to read next:

The ever-growing list of C-level tech positions

DSI: the new rock stars of the company

The DSI in restructuring: transforming the functioning of IT


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