Politics, diplomacy, and technology define today's best Chief Information Officers. These CIOs use communication and dialog to bridge the gap between innovation and infrastructure while getting closer to stakeholders and constituents.
Although building infrastructure is central for any CIO, being a technologist is only one part of the job. When IT is staffed with good people, the CIO can delegate the nuts and bolts of technology and therefore spend more time with business users. Savvy CIOs recognize that business people care about results rather than IT metrics such as system uptime, bug counts, and project completion rate.
The CIO of a large aircraft manufacturer told me he spends 80 percent of his time with business leaders, learning how IT can become a better partner. Likewise, after fifty episodes of CxOTalk, speaking with top CIOs and other leaders, it is clear that talking, listening, learning, and doing are hallmark activities of great CIOs.
Communication — interacting with customers and stakeholders — is the best way for a CIO to stay in touch with issues that matter. For this reason, my co-host on CxOTalk, Vala Afshar, assembled a list to recognize CIOs who make themselves available to others on Twitter. A presentation of the list is embedded below:
Importantly, the scoring mechanism is based on engagement rather than followers. In other words, CIOs on this list gain points from interaction rather than just having many followers. I asked Afshar how he developed the list:
Influence means value and therefore we need systematic methods to determine ranking in lists such as this. My approach mixes factors such as level of engagement, size of network, and extent to which others identify each member as an influencer. Interestingly, number of followers is less important to the formula than you might think.
We should also recognize CIOs from the list who have been CxOTalk guests, because the show examines innovation and accomplishment. You can see from this group that innovation is not a function of company size, level of funding, or any other attribute separate from the person:
- Kim S. Stevenson, CIO, Intel
- Oliver Bussmann, CIO, UBS
- David A. Bray, CIO, Federal Communications Commission
- Marc Touitou, CIO, City of San Francisco
- Kelly Walsh, CIO, College of Westchester
- Ben Haines, CIO, Box
- Mike Kail, CIO, Netflix
- Stephen DiFilipo, CIO, Cecil College
- Adriana Karaboutis, CIO, Dell
- Joanna Young, CIO, University of New Hampshire
- Ramon Baez, CIO, Hewlett-Packard
- Jeanette Horan, CIO, IBM
- Kristin Russell, CIO State of Colorado
- David Chou, CIO, University of Mississippi Medical Center
When reviewing any list such as this, remember it is just a snapshot in time. Most important, these CIOs share a thirst to grow and share. By listening to others, they find creative solutions to real business needs.