CIOs want to move from technology to business leadership

19 Oct 2011

More than half (53pc) of chief information officers feel ideally positioned to move to the CEO role within their organisations, a new global report by CA Technologies has revealed.

The report, The Future Role of the CIO 2011; Becoming the Boss includes global research of 685 CIOs and finds that 42pc of them say that they have the necessary skills to migrate to the CEO role, making them “an able and motivated candidate”.

However, CIOs also think that other job roles have greater experience of the skills required to become CEO. This is corroborated by the research which has uncovered that of today’s current CEOs, only 4pc rose from the CIO position. Meanwhile, 29pc have risen from the chief financial officer role (CFO position and 23pc were previously chief operating officers (COO).

When asked why relatively few CIOs had successfully made the transition to the CEO role, 58pc of CIOs stated their role is typically viewed as technical, and 53pc said it is viewed as a role which runs a business support function rather than a core business area. Some 16pc of CIO respondents also believe there is prejudice within their organisation against CIO progression.

At the heart of business strategy

“Today technology is at the heart of business strategy for many organisations and is no longer seen as a function of the business, but rather a principal driver for companies in gaining competitive advantage,” said Jacob Lamm, executive vice-president Strategy and Corporate Development, CA Technologies.

“The modern CIO is an experienced professional with an eye for the bigger picture; 31pc have previously held non-technical senior roles – they just happen to have an aptitude for applying technology.”

Sarah Greensmith, managing director, IT at executive search specialists Hudson, commented that finding a suitable successor is a critical component of the chief executive’s role in many businesses.

“The traditional way that companies have groomed C-level executives however is overdue for a refresh. The research shows that progression from COO and CFO are the most common routes to the top, but the research also reveals that modern CIOs are not only a contender for the role, but also a serious candidate with unique advantages over their peers,” she said.

“Five or six years ago, many businesses introduced the CIO job title with the idea that it was about maintaining the technical platform. However, the CIO role should be seen as not only leading the technology side of the business, but adding value and creating cost efficiencies, bringing the role to life by making the board digitally literate and helping them understand how technology can help from a business perspective.”

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