Chief information officers have moved from being craftspeople to architects and merchants of change, John Loebenstein, group executive, IT at St George Bank told Avaya's Australian user conference last week.
According to Loebenstein, the role of the CIO is now about leadership and business acumen. "Leadership is very important in an IT environment that continues to change," he said. CIOs should create environments that let people succeed, focus on strengths rather than weaknesses, recognise and reward great work, and provide support and encouragement. Things do go wrong, and it is important to learn from mistakes when they occur, he observed.
In addition to providing leadership to IT staff, "the CIO must be at the leadership table," he said. IT isn't the business, but business cannot function without IT, so not including the CIO in the senior management team is like leaving out the HR director, suggested Loebenstein.
IT is now "a true business partner in every sense of the word," he said. "You [the CIO] have to be empathic with the business," providing technical direction to the business, and business direction to the technologists.
The CIO is the emissary of business into the technological world, so KPIs must be business driven, not technological. They are there to help transform the organisation, not to manage technology, and IT must be able to demonstrate the value it provides to the business. CIOs should ensure that IT is not taken for granted, but the business should have confidence in IT's ability to deliver.
"Today's CIO must be a good communicator... PowerPoint presentations alone won't do," he warned.
The CIO of the future will need to exhibit leadership, business acumen, management experience, communication skills, diverse experience and experience as a change agent, said Loebenstein, and therefore will be a potential CEO.