What's all this noise about CIO?
You cannot help but stumble over the term as it becomes the acronym of choice to describe the single most critical person in the corporate IT chain.
Conferences and seminars are now aimed at CIOs, The Financial Review cannot use it enough when writing about corporate IT and, of course, this magazine has now changed its name from IT Casebook to CIO.
I'm convinced that the CIO phenomenon is not just another buzzword making the IT rounds. Rather it is a signal that we are all working in an industry that has matured and integrated itself into the very heart of each organisation's mission.
The simple fact is that no corporation or large government department can succeed without a very senior executive responsible for integrating information technology with the organisation's business needs.
Virtually every survey of the concerns of top IT executives lists as No. 1 the integration of technology with business goals. There was a period not too long ago when I suspected this goal was more often driven by the IS department - a matter of self-improvement as it were. Today there is no doubt this push to better integrate technology with the business is driven by the board and senior, non-IT management - surely a matter of the organisation's instinct for competitive survival.
Toiling in the vineyard day on day, you can sometimes fail to perceive the bounty of the harvest. In this instance, many of you have worked so long to make IT critical to your organisations that you may not fully appreciate just how important it has become.
Consider these statistics from Quadrant Research 18 months ago: Only one in 10 senior IT executives in Australia sits on the board of their organisation.
However, a further 50 per cent report to someone on the board.
The implication is clear. Corporate Australia structurally already recognises IT as a strategic resource. The challenge is equally clear. Senior IT executives can either continue to advance in their careers and become members of the board or end up stalled, reporting to someone else who has assumed the most important role in the IT decision-making process.
We believe that the career challenge is significant and attainable. That's why our advertising says "Get beyond MIS issues." For if the IT executive limits him or herself to MIS concerns, they will abandon the more critical role of CIO to others.
No matter what they call it, organisations will have a CIO function. We will continue to champion this position and continue to offer insights into how other organisations are tackling this position.
To find our what others think about the CIO phenomenon, I recommend reading Maggie Macrae's story "Role Model" in this issue. I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue either by e-mail at email@example.com or fax (02) 9439 5512.
By the way, our next issue features some great research. We will report on the first annual CIO magazine IT executive salary survey, and our columnist Peter Hind will deliver the highlights of the recently completed "Forecast for Management" survey. It should be a real eye-opener.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.