CIO -The tug of War- CEO


As the world knows, IT is a technical answer to the business conundrums of an enterprise whereas a Digital Strategy is the business’s answer to the problems of sustenance of an enterprise.

Placed parallel to each other, they are the tracks carrying the rails of the organization to move on. But can a train really go any further if the tracks of IT & digital start becoming un-parallel? Perhaps not. But such is the junction at which many companies find themselves as if their CEO and CIO have a difference of opinion.

The internet bubble of the 1990s engulfed in its reach almost every other smart enterprise, that existed in the market. Such was the fixation to scuba-dive into the unexplored ocean of Technology, that the frequency of tests by the organizations, started taking a toll on their finances in the form of red-streaked losses. These failures, according to pundits, proved that the IT goals & the digital strategy of the company were miles apart.

Fault in Our Stars

If there was to be one pitfall each of the IT & Digital Practices, that are now being sought for shelter by the enterprises, then it wouldn’t be hard to notice that neither, in its function is far-sighted and keeping a view of the future. The generation of CEOs, today is largely hand-picked from the top B-schools (Harvard Wharton, etc.) having pursued their Masters in business administration & finance. Hence, their focus is streamlined towards getting the company back on its feet for the present. Similarly, the CIOs leading the charge of their respective IT wings, avoid lifting the weight of responsibilities wherein they have to incorporate the updates of future.

Make no mistake about it, the CIOs have strong arguments lined up in their favor. Paraphrasing a few individuals, the company while allocating the budgets to the IT wing acts parsimoniously. To match the Digital transformation in pace, Information Technology needs to gallop and for the same, they require heavy expenditure from the top-management, which is off-course short in supply. Secondly, the vendors who are so readily entrusted with carrying out operations (that could be handled by the in-house teams) rely on outdated tools, thereby sucking the much low enthusiasm of engineers out of the picture. And lastly, since the soft wares that are innovated are not tangible, therefore it is hard to instill confidence in the top-brass in relation to the work done.

Moreover, a CIO does not regularly find a chair in the Board Meetings of the organization, which impedes their opportunity of proposing the importance of IT to the CEO. Needless to say, companies who have knowingly or unknowingly embraced this culture have automatically seen the results in the form of unfavorable numbers. On the other hand, enterprises that have made it their prime objective to equilibrate their Digital ambitions and IT initiatives, have taken the lead on their competitors, eventually.

Moral of the Story

The CIO & CEO together need to find common ground to devise an apparatus that is operationally successful and financially profitable for the company. But the issue should not be taken as a scapegoat to overlook the real priorities of a CIO which should revolve around digital transformation, familiarizing the business with the likes of Cloud & other similar technologies, empowering their workforce with the pre-requisite skills and lastly, making time for unearthing that which will propel their brand above others using technology.