IT people are those who exploit technology to enable the business to become more efficient, more cost effective and better equipped to make informed decisions. CIO is a job title commonly given to the most senior executive in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals. The CIO typically reports to the chief executive officer, chief operations officer or chief financial officer.
In 2007 a survey amongst CIOs by CIO magazine in the UK discovered that their top 10 concerns were: people leadership , managing budgets, business alignment, infrastructure refresh, security, compliance, resource management, managing expectations, managing change and last but not least board representation and politics.
There has always been a need to align IT initiatives and structures with business strategy and requirements, but there is growing recognition that this strategic need requires board-level representation. Traditionally board-level representation has come from finance, marketing and HR; no consideration was given to including representation from IT. This was largely down to the fact that IT started under finance essentially to deliver some reports (remember MIS) and keep systems running.
Today technology plays a very different role, it is no longer a side function that can be relegated and CIOs are more involved in business strategy and in running and sponsoring non IT initiatives while having to deliver more with less. Many CIOs are acting as agents of change and providing business leadership beyond technology.
A large part of a CIO's role includes making a contribution to corporate strategy. Information systems and technology have become such an integral part of the business world that more and more organizations are realizing the importance of their CIOs possessing the business management and leadership skills required to integrate the organization with the major components of an information system. CIOs also need to ensure that the value of IT is clearly visible to business managers across the organization, show how the new business intelligence environment is helping managers make faster and more informed decisions, how the new CRM is helping sales managers provide more accurate forecasts, and how the new self service expense management systems is saving everyone’s time.
So why do we still see many CIOs in the Middle East being excluded from board representation? Is it just a matter of time or there is more to it than that?