Why Are Companies ‘Blind’ To Role CIOs Play?

Cost Benefit AnalysisThere’s an interesting op-ed published in a United Arab Emirate business publication that addresses why CIOs have become integral to the success of many corporations. Yet, others are still blind to the role chief information officers play in making an organization thrive.

Randy Gross, CIO, for CompTIA, a U.S.-based, non-profit IT industry trade association, writes at Gulf Business, “While many businesses at least understand the importance of cross-platform integration — ensuring that mobile apps mirror the company website, for example — most are still blind to the important role IT plays in business success.”

Among the points Gross makes in his column are businesses should invest more in education for existing IT staff; management should learn the language of IT; understand the role of data processing and analytics; and be judicious in their hiring practices.

He argues that when education is lacking in the information technology section a company is put at greater risk. “IT techs need to be one step ahead of the hackers and criminals who are attempting to infiltrate businesses and governments, and should be trained on an ongoing basis in order to protect the business,” Gross said.

Management literacy is also important for understanding IT. He adds, “The [managers] who learn the language of IT and stay current on threats can attempt to future-proof the business. Good data processing means good analytics, and good analytics leads to better business outcomes. Suddenly it’s not about IT anymore: This is business strategy.”

Hiring practices are also going to be important, which is another area where CIOs can demonstrate their value to a company. Gross said as the emphasis continues to be on big data, analytics, cloud storage and multiplatform integration evolve, “The IT professionals in those roles need specialist training and certifications to stay up to date on the latest technology and applications.”

Atticus Tysen, Senior Vice President and CIO for Intuit, made similar points when speaking at the ServiceNow Knowledge 2014 event, held recently in San Francisco. As reported by the Silicon Angle blog, He said fostering a cooperative attitude to demonstrate IT’s value led to his role as CIO. “The main reason I joined the IT group was because I kept hearing that the main reason we couldn’t do certain things was because of IT. So, I figured don’t complain, join them,” Tysen said.

To turn “the IT department from a cost center to a value center,” Tysen changed the focus of the staff members at their request. The article reported, “What he never knew was that they wanted a more active role in the company, explaining that ‘they’ve wanted to make changes like [what we are now doing] for some time but they were relegated to traditional IT roles rather than being strategic thinkers in the organization.’”

Another revision he made was treating the IT team as a product unit. Also, the article said, Tysen, just completing his first year as CIO, ” created a sales care and marketing team among the IT group. ‘That gave them the responsibility for creating the experience for the end user and agents, regardless of the technology they opted for,’ he said. He wanted his team to understand they didn’t need to maintain an allegiance to a specific solution if it was no longer the best solution. Therefore, overseeing customer and agent experience allowed them the freedom to ensure the best options to achieve their goals.”

Tysen also is getting his IT team involved in Intuit’s “Follow Me Home” program where the company sees how their products are being used by customers so they can be designed more efficiently. “Tysen’s iteration of this program saw his engineers doing site visits to their agents, ensuring their internal products were aiding in bottom line efficiency and ease of use,” the article said.

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.