The role of a CIO from a 2.0 executive’s perspective
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Note from the editor: This article is an interview carried out by the CUVIV team with Didac Lee during the month of September, a special edition dedicated to CIOs. It has a technical outlook but we but we believe including it in ZyncroBlog a good opportunity for due to the quality of content.
P: From a work perspective, do you think that the IT manager / CIO is one of the most important and key roles in the development of the business, whether this is developing new projects or giving daily support?
R: Without a doubt. IT is a key support area in any organisation; not only as a tool and for improving productivity but also as a lever toward organisational growth contributing a distinct value.
When is works well it is undervalued but when it does not work, organisations are burdened and lose competitivity.
All functional areas and departments are being transformed and are reinventing their work daily. We find ourselves in a globalised, changing and highly competitive environment where it has never been more important to do more with less.
In this way, IT plays a key role due to the clear advantages offered by technology itself as well as its fit within the business.
P: From your working experiences in the different companies you have developed your career in and from the viewpoint of your functional area at work, do you think that the CIO has the sensitivity needed to understand your department’s problems?
R: If they don’t have this sensitivity, they are not a CIO. A CIO should understand the organisation perfectly whilst adding value to it through the different technologies that support the different activities and processes within the organisation.
The CIO has a great opportunity to lead in the role of the “facilitator” / “transformer” of the business and persuade the CEO and the rest of the functional areas (finance, sales, marketing, operations…) to join in the new innovative orientation, change and reinvention of the company on a daily basis.
P: On many occasions we see the IT department as a cost rather than a business investment in order to maintain competitivity and keep up to date with the new technologies we are surrounded by. What is your opinion in your case?
R: That vision is right in many cases where there have been investments in technology just for the sake of it. The members of IT clearly like technology a lot but the perspective of a CIO is to ensure that the business has the appropriate technologies available to it at the least possible cost.
The IT department needs to manage business criteria and those contributions should be measurable on the balance sheet.
P: In many companies the CIO has implemented a catalogue of services centralised by the IT department whereby requests received are classified and resolved based on their importance and impact on the business. In many cases, this can allow the IT department to invoice their services to other company departments internally whilst strengthening the internal IT consultancy concept. What advantages and disadvantages can you point out to these models?
Best practices such as ITIL, COBIT, etc. and standards such as ISO2000 that have been implemented in many organsations are not only helping the organisation of the IT department internally but especially in the establishment of a comprehensive language for communication between IT and the internal clients that use it. Having a service catalogue known to users with agreed service levels relating to business areas, using established processes improves the perception of IT departments without a doubt and overall, the users can be clear on the services given by the IT department as well as the communication channels with it.
P: It is very important for us that the IT manager understands the business and can align it with new technologies. Do you think the IT department members can work as pure technologists? Or should they have a certain level of sensitivity and business knowledge as to the different areas that the business is made of?
R: As I said before, a CIO is not a CIO if he or she doesn’t have a knowledge of the business. Without this knowledge, it would be impossible for IT within my organisation to add any value at all.
The role of CIO goes from taking initiative and suggesting innovations that allow the company to improve its balance sheet, increase income, reduce costs and shorten the time to market up until the launch of the product or service.
In order to make a contribution to the company, it is key to have a knowledge of the business and manage IT with business criteria.
P: What do you think is key for the CIO’s work to be even more important and play an important role within the company?
R: They need to be a proactive person and be close to the business. The company should also involve them in the management committee.
A process orientation and the technological component of any business project makes it vital that the CEO as well as the functional directors understand the current IT infrastructure that makes up the company. In the same way it is key for the CIO to manage Information and Communication Technology using business criteria and be able to anticipate business needs. All of this occurs when the CIO is involved in the decision making from the beginning: The Board Commitee. From this angle, they will be able to anticipate business needs and generate IT advantages in line with the business.