Gartner: CIOs and CMOs must 'turn sparks into flame'

CIO and IT success depend on establishing new relationships with technology-centric parts of the enterprise, such as marketing. Here are key points you need to know.

In the most recent episode of CxO Talk, Vala Afshar and I asked Gartner group vice president, Mark P. McDonald, to advise CIOs who face declining IT budgets despite higher overall technology spend in their organization.

Also read:  CxO Talk: Gartner says 'provide and pray' collaboration won't work

Mark's comments shed light on reformulating IT strategy to reflect changing corporate needs and the evolving relationship between the CIO and CMO:

Turning sparks into flame and growing that flame requires a scalable, very capable platform. That's what the CIO brings to the table. The most powerful combinations we've seen are the CIO and CMO working together with a shared goal to grow the business. When my goal is to grow the business, everybody has the potential to win. When my goal is to control costs, there is automatically a system of winners and losers.

Listen to this one-minute video clip to experience Mark's passion and insight about the topic:

Strategic CIO implications

The shift in technology budget allocations has two important implications for the CIO and IT:

1. IT will become increasingly commoditized, devalued, and irrelevant unless the CIO gains a stronger sense of strategic purpose.

Supporting your organization's strategic goals is the most direct route to establishing relevancy in the enterprise. It's not rocket science but rather common sense — meet business users' needs and of course they will perceive you as being relevant. I have previously written  about CIO relevancy:

The world of CIOs and IT is likely to split into infrastructure providers and innovation partners. To become a genuine partner to the business, start taking steps today. If you don't make a change soon, your IT organization may end up a commodity shop in a transforming world. 

2. Chronic conflict between IT and the business does exist.

In the current economic environment, many organizations want IT to innovate and simultaneously reduce costs. It is up to the CIO to resolve these tensions through improved collaboration with the business. The following diagram presents a view of chronic conflict as applied to IT and the CIO:

IT core chronic conflict

Chronic conflict between IT and the business will suck your life away in an endless sea of frustrating pain; far better to work closely with leadership, be strategic, and define explicit IT priorities based on open communication with the people setting business priorities.

Thanks to author, Gene Kim, for formulating this concept in a  CIO innovation workshop  he and I co-presented. For more information on chronic conflict, see the work of Eli Goldratt. 

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