Three Barriers Holding Back CIOs

Today, with technology embedded in virtually every business process and market dynamics changing at a mind-boggling pace, the role of CIO is rapidly changing from a technology manager to a business executive. CIOs need to be influential business partners that are not just collaborating with the business but co-creating solutions for the organization. But many CIOs are struggling to get there. In a recent Forrester survey, 54% of business decision-makers said that IT does not understand the business issues and priorities to tackle them. Business decision-makers also recognize the importance of technology to their business models: 75% said technology is too important to them not to get involved in. So the message is clear: if the CIOs don’t step up, businesses will find ways to source technology through other means — and many already have. 

Forrester has identified three key barriers to CIO success:

  • Brittle processes and legacy systems. Brittle processes are created when you have technologists thinking in binary terms while developing business solutions. Compounding the problem is the fact that these processes are embedded (in many cases hard coded) into legacy systems.
  • Victim mentality. This is probably the most common one on both sides of the aisle. Business folks often love bashing IT on their speed and responsiveness, while IT often feels they are asked to do the impossible. Many CIOs feel that they could be real business partners only if the business considered them an equal and gave them an opportunity to be so.
  • Bulletproof solutions. Often the need for agility and speed outweigh performance requirements, yet IT processes are not built to be agile. Anything coming out of the IT shop has to be bulletproof, scalable, integrated and highly redundant.

We think addressing each of these barriers offers a unique opportunity for CIOs to become real business partners. What do you think? What are your top barriers? What have you done to overcome them? I’d be very interested to hear your war stories. We’ll continue this conversation as Brian Hopkins and I present a keynote on this topic at the 2012 CIO/EA Forum in Las Vegas May 3 and 4, and Paris, June 19 and 20.