No Respect for CIOs Study Finds

“No respect, no respect at all,” the late Rodney Dangerfield used as his comedic mantra. Now, CIOs are not feeling the love either a new study finds.

Forrester Research, according to the Wall Street Journal blog CIO Journal, has determined that CIOs are perceived as being revenue drainers instead of revenue boosters. Those self-appointed saviors of organizations everywhere, sales executives, hold them in little regard. “Sales executives, in particular, give CIOs low marks, with three-quarters of the respondents expressing doubt in their ability to boost revenue,” says the Wall Street Journal’s Clint Boulton.

According to Computing.com, a UK website, “Marketing was somewhat more positive about the role of IT within the business, but still the majority – 51 per cent – believe that the CIO doesn’t help accelerate their success.”

Otherwise, though, things are fairly dismal when it comes to valuing what a CIO does. Computing further reports, “Customer service professionals were the most dismissive of the CIO, with 79 per cent suggesting that the IT department doesn’t play a role in improving their part of the business, while 78 per cent of those in product and engineering expressed the same view.”

According to Computing, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train. “The report suggests a number of ways in which the CIO can alter this perception, including transforming the IT department through the use of new customer experience skills, the sort departments like sales and marketing use when dealing with outside agencies,” the article says.

It adds, quoting the report, “Your business leaders have grown accustomed to working with digital agencies and consultancies to build new mobile applications, websites, and loyalty programs. To win their trust, you need to mirror many of the skills and behaviors of these firms.”

“We’ve built up this history for how CIOs do their job over the past 20 years, where their agenda was largely set by the CFO,” said Forrester analyst Kyle McNabb, one of the authors of a new report, in the WSJ column. CIOs are still battling that history, despite the realization across the board that digital technologies, in many ways, now drive the business, the column adds.

It continues, “As a result, business executives still largely view CIOs as managers of data centers or billing systems, rather than strategic business partners, and turn to third-parties for assistance, said McNabb. CIOs can flip their business counterparts’ assumptions by crafting digital technology strategies — separate from their IT agendas — that exist to serve customers. But they’ve got to work quickly to transition to the role of digital innovator, added McNabb.

“CIOs must provide competitive differentiation by implementing technology and processes that supports brands, products and services,” said McNabb in the article. “That could include using social media and other digital technologies to capture data on customers’ consumption of the businesses’ products, as well predictive analytics to glean insights that are specific to the business. ‘If you don’t want to be the dinosaur, these are some of the things you have to do differently,’ said McNabb.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Morning Download for July 29, 2014 followed up on the topic. “Business executives still see CIOs as IT turnkeys, not stewards of strategic technologies that can help acquire customers or grow revenue, according to a new Forrester Research Inc. survey,” the column said.

The Morning Download quoted from a previous interview with General Motors Co. CIO Randy Mott who told CIO Journal last year: “To transform the company, you really need IT, which touches all parts of the business. And you need IT that is designed around GM. There are no other GMs in the world. You don’t want an (outsourced) staff that is focused on GM one moment and Procter & Gamble the next.”

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.