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The Emergence of the CIO-Plus

Rising up over the horizon is a new breed of CIO, leaner, keener, and ready to tackle an expanded array of challenges. According to Peter High in an article for Forbes, there are several reasons why businesses rely on their IT leaders more than ever to achieve success, one of which is that IT is one of the few departments that understands business processes from end-to-end. The fact that IT leaders also need to communicate with other heads of business units about their strategies places them in a position to be able to craft single solutions that address the needs of many different aspects of the business. When a CIO is called upon to reach across the board to find these solutions, High likes to think of that person as a CIO-plus.

CIOs seem like a natural fit for expanded responsibilities because they are used to thinking in structured, logical ways to address problems in the first place. When they are able to develop relationship-building and communication skills in addition to maintaining their detail-oriented technology expertise, they have a perfect storm of abilities to contribute to the organization. Of course, the pay sadly does not always increase in proportion to the amount of new responsibilities added to the workload.

High suggests we can groom the oncoming wave of CIO-pluses by taking a look at a study done by the Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB), which states that organizations need to take a much broader, enterprise-wide view on performance rather than continuing to measure individual employee performance. When employees do not feel boxed in to their singular obligations, they will better cooperate and meet the overall demands of their department together. High continues:

CEB points out that “firms that were able to move more employees to high levels of enterprise performance realized a 10% improvement in profitability, compared to a 5% improvement for those who emphasized and achieved high levels of individual performance alone…Unfortunately, 64% of employees do not feel their current role truly reflects how they do, or should, work with others to get their jobs done.” Providing clear incentives for employees to collaborate further is key.

The article concludes by offering four steps from the study to organizations:

  1. Manage collaboration over discrete work tasks.
  2. Invest time in building complementary teams, and keep the ones that work.
  3. Emphasize “network management” alongside knowledge management.
  4. Encourage and enable collaboration with external partners.

When the day comes that the CIO-plus inherits the Earth, fostering an environment such as the one described in this article will help ensure that they are ready to assume control.

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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