Know-how pro to small business chief: The evolution of the CIO

Main facts officers are frequently specialists in know-how, but small business technique leadership distinguishes trailblazers from the relaxation of the pack.

Today’s IT leaders require to strike the correct harmony among engineering and company approach, a panel of industry experts stated at a recent webinar hosted by the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. A lot of CIOs are far more comfy with technological innovation than with formulating business enterprise tactic, embracing profits-technology duties, working with boards of directors, or driving alter administration. But these are all now important components of the purpose.

Study displays the evolution of the CIO from technologies specialist to organization business leader. According to’s 2023 State of the CIO survey, many CIOs are currently enjoying a strategic management job. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents stated they hope to actively push business innovation, build and refine enterprise system, and establish prospects for competitive differentiation over the next 3 many years. The study also found that CEOs assume CIOs really should prioritize strengthening IT and enterprise collaboration, and CIOs’ most critical focus is driving small business innovation.

“At the close of the day, IT is the organization and the business is IT,” reported panel moderator Shamim Mohammad, executive vice president and main data and engineering officer at CarMax. “They are all jointly, and ultimately there require to be common aims.”

But it can be tricky for CIOs to navigate the changeover from a technology focus to a broader small business part. The panelists provided the next advice.

1. Anchor everything in small business worth.

Tech leaders have a tendency to chat about engineering when they really should truly frame alternatives in the context of how they deliver for the company. Way too numerous discussions forged IT initiatives as expense-reducing initiatives mainly because these kinds of arguments are normally persuasive. Nonetheless IT leaders have to have to go further and floor conversations about technology with senior leaders in phrases they understand — anchored in business enterprise benefit and supported by return-on-expenditure metrics.


In a 2022 survey, 71% of respondents said they expect CIOs to generate small business innovation and build business enterprise approach.

“We known as it the three-finger punch,” reported George Corbin, an government who has led innovation and business enterprise transformation at key firms like Mars Inc. and Marriott Global, describing his methods for presenting IT proposals to top management. “We would essentially arrive in and say, ‘Here are three facts you require to know: We’re dropping share amongst the greatest buyer section we’re shedding share to new intermediaries, which price tag us 10x for each transaction and our loyalty is dropping.’ We established the tone, showing we are anchored on important small business needs and how a electronic proposal solves for it.”

2. Use storytelling and interaction techniques.  

A recitation of details, particularly really technological ones, won’t grab the attention of the C-suite — or the broader enterprise, for that make a difference.

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