Want to be a successful CIO? Here's how

Gartner today outlined the attributes of the "new breed" of chief information officers (CIO) for IT enterprises.
Written by Kristyn Maslog-Levis, Contributor
Gartner today outlined the attributes of the "new breed" of chief information officers (CIO) for IT enterprises.

Analysts presenting a session at Gartner's annual symposium entitled "The New CIO Leader: Imperatives for the Future" listed credibility as the top requirement for "new breed" CIOs wanting to properly lead and manage their information system (IS) teams.

Speakers Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis said that credibility came from delivering results that the enterprise leadership cares about.

"Every success builds more credibility; every failure chips away at the CIO's credibility. Credibility requires building strong relationships. It means being politically smart, integrating IT objectives and enterprise objectives, and anticipating business needs to deploy a predictable stream of technology that enables business solutions."

On the demand side, Broadbent said, the CIOs need to create a vision of how IT will both stimulate and support better business strategy for the company.

"This means understanding the fundamentals of your environment and your industry, and engaging key stakeholders. Shape and manage informed expectations of your executive identifying the key business needs and articulating these as business maxims, then identifying the IT maxims that they require. Good governance is essential to effective collaboration among executives to weave together business and IT strategy."

On the supply side, Broadbent said that CIOs need to "refocus on process-based work and source strategically."

"New CIO leaders are IT executives who wish to become leaders facing the changing role of information technology and who are not content with the status quo. 'New' or 're-new-ing' CIO leaders are those that develop their agenda and deliver results that make an impact on their enterprises."

According to Broadbent and Kitzis, CIOs need to understand the business and not just the technology. "Effective CIOs know the rhythm and temp of the industries they are in, as well as they know the fundamentals of their enterprises."

Broadbent suggested that CIOs should engage key decision makers and stakeholders, which includes direct customers and suppliers. However, she added that with the expansion of enterprises, the number of IS stakeholders also increase to include vendors, outsourcers, regulators, interest groups and regulatory agencies.

Kitzis suggests that CIOs divide the stakeholders into groups to distinguish their stance in relation to IS issues.

"The process of integrating business and IT strategy and execution starts with understanding the longer-term intent of the enterprise and the options available, including technology options. Business strategies are converted to business maxims, which lead to IT maxims and, finally, to IT strategies," she said.

Lastly, Broadbent warns that not all enterprises are the same and that CIOs' priorities must be based on the business context. CIOs should have different priorities for breakaway enterprises, enterprises maintaining competitiveness or those that are fighting for survival.

"CIOs must be sensitive to the enterprises they are in and modify their behaviour and strategies accordingly," Broadbent said.

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