Stephen Gillett On The Changing Role Of The CIO: Your Questions Answered

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to submit your questions for Stephen Gillett, EVP, CIO, and GM, Digital Ventures, Starbucks. Stephen will be giving a keynote address on how to elevate the role of the traditional CIO to that of a digital business leader next week at Forrester’s IT Forum. Thank you for your questions – they didn’t disappoint. Without further ado, here are the top questions we received, along with Stephen’s answers:

1. What is the difference between CIO and Digital Business Leader? Why is the CIO the digital business leader and not someone in Marketing if it's all about reaching out to the customer?
 
[Stephen Gillett] The CIO has typically played a supportive role in all things technical and digital. This means other parts of the organization lead the company’s go-to-market activities and the CIO supports those activities from a technology perspective. As the role of CIO evolves, there is an opportunity for the CIO to not only support key business initiatives – but strategically lead them.
 
2. Who leads the day-to-day IT functional management if the CIO doesn't do it? If the CIO is to be able to engage with the business and become trusted, then how can that be achieved if they still have a large IT department reporting to them?
 
[Stephen Gillett] The CIO must first and foremost be the steward of the information and business technology needs of the global enterprise. It is also the CIO’s role to ensure that the strategic priorities of the IT organization are strong and transparent through proper role clarity, organizational design and business alignment. The CIO’s IT leader must cultivate business relationships as well.  It is through these connections that the IT organization can support the company’s strategic objectives.
 
3. We have heard from many respectable speakers, including you, on what a CIO should be, but very few have provided insight into what they should not be or shouldn’t do. I am sure the list will be small. Any suggestions from you?
 
[Stephen Gillett] The CIO should not be viewed simply as the “highest ranking IT person.” The CIO should be both the leader of the company’s IT discipline and a key contributor to the company’s overall business strategy.
 
We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with Stephen next week and hearing him elaborate on these and other questions. So feel free to keep the questions coming! Please leave your questions for Stephen in the comments section, email them to us, or tweet them to us @Forrester.