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The value of a strategically minded CIO

The value of a strategically minded CIO

Your level of business competence is impacting how your organisation performs, says Mark Coles

Why are so many CIOs seen as nothing more than operational managers? Is it a distrust of ICT? Is it a lack of understanding? Or is it a mindset that refuses to evolve over time?

I attempted to answer these questions last month and explain why I believe c-level executives still view the CIO role as an operations function.

But more than ever, organisations should view the CIO as a strategically minded executive.

For now, let’s imagine that the CIO is always classified as an executive position. What value would be obtained from such a classification?

Medium to large organisations will spend millions of dollars each year on ICT, which will represent anywhere from 3 per cent to 10 per cent, or more, of total revenue. They will be heavily if not completely reliant on the availability and effectiveness of the technology infrastructure and business applications.

Technology is becoming an increasingly large part of how companies function internally and how they interact with external customers. Unplanned outages can cause reputational damage and loss of revenue and customers.

Organisations that function in fast-paced markets simply cannot get new products to market without using technology. Whether technology is used for design, financial analysis or promotion, the reality is that it’s a fundamental to an organisation’s existence and success.

So, that all points to a CIO who has a heavy responsibility, the CIO’s abilities and business competence will impact how an organisation performs. If boards or CEOs do not accept or understand this, they are surely leading organisations that are either struggling or failing to achieve their full potential.

So what value can a strategic CIO add to the business compared to one that stuck in an operational role? Given the significance of ICT as outlined above there can only be one answer.

A CIO who works with and understands the objectives of the business executives will ultimately create and promote innovative solutions that benefit the business and help it acquire and retain customers.

A CIO who is technically-aware, a visionary and is viewed as a business enabler can use extensive technology investments to deliver the products and services customers are seeking.

One CIO in this category is Tim Thurman at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Tim must think strategically if the ASX is to meet the expectations of its customers in a high transaction environment.

This requires a good understanding of how financial markets function, the regulatory processes, and the role the ASX plays in supporting industry.

Read more: When CIOs are really just IT managers

The ASX doesn’t want the type of CIO who simply ensures that there is capacity to process transactions.

Now ask yourself. What type of CIO am I?

Mark Coles is the former director of technology services and CIO at the Federal Court of Australia.

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Tags strategic cioTim ThurmanAustralian Securities Exchangeoperational cioASXMark Coles

More about Australian Security ExchangeColes GroupFederal Court of AustraliaTechnology

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