Putting You in Your Box

Putting You in Your Box

Local CIOs are at the top of their game when it comes to running — or fixing — IT. But in the new world order, reliability and uptime are merely the ante for CIOs to get into the game. To succeed in the future, you need much more. Our exclusive survey identifies the skill sets that can give you the winning edge

In the past 12 months, Australian CIOs have honed their communication, leadership and management skills and deepened their business and industry knowledge and experience.

Working largely for organizations where IT governance is centralized, a majority lives the idea that IT should proactively envision business possibilities and they routinely use technology to initiate business improvements.

Your responses to this year's survey — more than 240 of them — present a mixed picture of IT progress

Yet as the State of the CIO 2007 survey reaffirms, organizations expect above all else that their CIO will deliver a reliable IT utility. The result is that most CIOs must still grapple with IT budgets that leave relatively little of the total devoted to anything but non-discretionary (keeping the lights on) items like infrastructure, support and maintenance. In the average IT shop, barely one-quarter of the budget goes to discretionary projects providing new capabilities.

As US CIO magazine put it so eloquently: "You can have the emotional intelligence of a Business Leader CIO or the project management skills of an Operational CIO, but if the basic IT utility that lets businesspeople do their jobs isn't running up to expectations — and if its unit cost doesn't go down continually — you will soon find yourself unemployed. Guaranteed."

And we're not talking about network uptime. "The business doesn't care about 99.9 percent uptime unless you're talking about the uptime of a business process or an end-to-end capability," as Peter Weill, director of the Center for Information Systems Research and senior research scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management, told US CIO magazine.

Yet your responses to this year's survey — more than 240 of them — present a mixed picture of IT progress.

Overwhelmingly those surveyed cite ability to communicate effectively as the personal skill most pivotal to their role (as well as their primary strength), closely followed by strategic thinking and planning and ability to lead and motivate staff. Barely 7 percent nominate thorough knowledge of technology operations and just 7 percent technical proficiency as being pivotal to their success. Clearly being an effective CIO today owes very little to technical know-how and just about everything to leadership and business knowledge.

On that subject, a slight majority is now a part of the business executive management committee, and CIOs are being given some freedom to focus on strategic issues, but the battle for alignment, compensation and recognition rages on.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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