Technology specialist to business enterprise leader: The evolution of the CIO

Technology specialist to business enterprise leader: The evolution of the CIO

Chief details officers are frequently industry experts in technological innovation, but business tactic leadership distinguishes trailblazers from the relaxation of the pack.

Today’s IT leaders will need to strike the appropriate balance involving technological innovation and organization tactic, a panel of professionals said at a current webinar hosted by the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Lots of CIOs are extra comfortable with technological innovation than with formulating business strategy, embracing revenue-generation duties, doing work with boards of directors, or driving change management. But these are all now critical areas of the job.

Investigation displays the evolution of the CIO from technology professional to company organization leader. In accordance to’s 2023 Condition of the CIO survey, many CIOs are now participating in a strategic management purpose. Virtually a few-quarters (71%) of respondents mentioned they expect to actively push organization innovation, acquire and refine business enterprise tactic, and discover chances for aggressive differentiation about the future a few several years. The survey also found that CEOs imagine CIOs need to prioritize strengthening IT and organization collaboration, and CIOs’ most critical target is driving enterprise innovation.

“At the conclude of the working day, IT is the business and the business is IT,” reported panel moderator Shamim Mohammad, executive vice president and chief details and technologies officer at CarMax. “They are all collectively, and ultimately there need to have to be typical targets.”

But it can be complicated for CIOs to navigate the transition from a technological innovation emphasis to a broader business enterprise function. The panelists made available the subsequent suggestions.

1. Anchor every thing in small business price.

Tech leaders have a tendency to speak about technological innovation when they should really frame solutions in the context of how they produce for the organization. Too numerous conversations forged IT initiatives as charge-slicing initiatives for the reason that these arguments are often persuasive. Yet IT leaders want to go further more and floor conversations about technological know-how with senior leaders in terms they recognize — anchored in small business worth and supported by return-on-investment decision metrics.


In a 2022 study, 71% of respondents reported they be expecting CIOs to generate company innovation and acquire business enterprise method.

“We known as it the three-finger punch,” explained George Corbin, an government who has led innovation and business transformation at important companies like Mars Inc. and Marriott Worldwide, describing his strategies for presenting IT proposals to leading administration. “We would effectively occur in and say, ‘Here are a few specifics you want to know: We’re shedding share amongst the most significant buyer phase we’re dropping share to new intermediaries, which price tag us 10x for every transaction and our loyalty is dropping.’ We set the tone, demonstrating we are anchored on critical small business requirements and how a electronic proposal solves for it.”

2. Use storytelling and interaction capabilities.  

A recitation of specifics, specifically highly specialized types, won’t seize the notice of the C-suite — or the broader enterprise, for that subject. CIOs need to create a persuasive narrative that ties the engineering highway map to business system, together with how it addresses certain agony factors or improvements essential profits plans. Corbin stated he when had problems making a situation for an initiative, even nevertheless he was armed with a 160-slide presentation deck. By translating the identical argument into a four-minute video clip depicting how the initiative would enrich the purchaser practical experience, he was equipped to split via and get the executive team on board.

Specially during the pandemic, “CIOs experienced to broaden their talents to converse and join with men and women,” reported Maryfran Johnson, the host of’s CIO Leadership Dwell movie exhibit and podcast. “And the way you connect with people today is often by way of tales.”

3. Be noticeable and encourage.

CIOs have to have to acquire each possibility to get out and talk the IT eyesight, regardless of whether it’s presenting at town halls or participating in board conferences. Painting a vivid eyesight of the technological innovation system not only drives acquire-in but also allows recruit champions across the group who will be essential to accomplishment.

On a particular front, CIOs really should actively encourage their possess brand, such as on social media internet sites like LinkedIn. “Don’t assume of LinkedIn as a resume site but instead as a advertising for your personalized products,” Corbin said. “What is the worth prop that you bring? That is what your LinkedIn profile should really express.”

Johnson agreed. “For improved or even worse, [LinkedIn] is our expert community in technology,” she said. “That’s wherever you want to start out connecting with other CIOs.”

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She recommended persons to acquire a near search at their social media profiles, mainly because other men and women will. “Every CIO I know wants their corporation to be a magnet for technology talent,” she stated. “Where is tech expertise going to go and look at you out as a boss and see how frequently you’re putting up? See what folks are indicating about the points that you’re publishing about your workers and what they’re executing, the initiatives you’re operating on.”

4. Nurture trusted interactions with C-suite friends.  

An understanding of the business enterprise and solid conversation techniques are the basis on which CIOs can construct bridges to govt crew counterparts and other parts of the company. When Mohammad came onboard at CarMax, he didn’t commence pitching significant transformation or IT tasks. Fairly, he invested time acquiring to know colleagues and partners to realize what their soreness details have been and what troubles the group faced. This permitted him to zero in on locations with the most business effects. He also made alliances with senior executives such as the main marketing officer and chief functioning officer, which attained him fast reliability with the relaxation of the management staff. 

“Anything we did arrived across as a firm initiative, not a know-how initiative, promoting system, or an functions initiative,” Mohammad claimed. “It commenced out with building strong interactions, possessing mutual have confidence in, and concentrating on prevalent problems that required to be conquer for the business.”

Read through future: Who owns digital innovation? Who cares?