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Thursday, August 03, 2006

CIOs ought to be business people, not geeks

Let's see how you react to this stance: I more and more tend to believe that, although it would definitely be best if engineering trained, CIOs (Chief Information Officers) need first to be business & management people, not geeks.

Further to that, CIOs should be promoted from the very inside of a company, and be familiar with its key processes and operations. Then, CIOs should obviously be keen on working in IT-intensive environments, though they don't necessarily need to be IT people.

Facing the dilemma "who should I chose between an excellent functional manager of one of my business key processes, and an excellent technologist?", I would definitely go for the process-knowledgeable candidate since this person will empirically know what it takes to optimize current operational routines, and foster a breakthrough from good to great value chain execution.

What about you? Please feel free to discuss my stance.


  • Jeremy, I do agree on some of your points. Quite a lot still depends on the organizational structure. Does the CIO report to the CFO or CEO? Is CFO also CIO (this is often the case!)? Is CIO also head of IT or are they two different managers?
    A technologist at CIO-level is just waste, because that's not the position where you are confronted with that kind of level of detail. CIO is interestd in tech definetly on strategy level. Your technologist/geek might be most effective as head of architecture or IT operations.
    The level of IT knowledge is quite nicely put in the Zachman framework, I think. The top level is what CIO thinks, next is head of IT, next is Architect... and down you go..

    By Blogger Kari, at 8/03/2006 07:42:00 AM  

  • To answer your 2 questions:
    CIO reports to CEO, and is the Head of IT - or more precisely information systems within the company. There's also a CTO dealing with R&D of the actual company (say the company does semi-conductors, the CTO will most likely hold a Ph.D. in micro-electronics etc. etc.).

    I didn't know the Zachman framework, thanks a lot Kari. To the readers who don't know what it's about too, here it is:
    I suggest that you investigate more too because it looks that there's lots of background behind it.

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 8/03/2006 08:43:00 AM  

  • Jeremy, my questions were supposed to be rethorical, as they differ from company to company. For example, at this certain company, CIO reports to CFO but happens to be also Head of IT. Even that double role seems to be quite a lot, so for a while Head of IT Operations (who reports to Head of IT) filled as Head of IT. But we are talking about a huge international company here... then there are of course some corporate governance issues which might mandate that certain roles need to be done by separate persons.
    in many smaller companies one guy can do all these roles, as I put in the previous comment. At least around here, quite many big companies have CFO who also has CIO's role.

    By Blogger Kari, at 8/03/2006 05:19:00 PM  

  • Allright Kari, now that I understand your questions were rhetorical (sorry), I totally agree with you. I wish I heard more from you since you have all this experience of IT departments. And about the CFO - CIO thing in big companies, that´s actually true! A member of my family has exactly this role although he doesn´t know lots about IT.

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 8/03/2006 05:48:00 PM  

  • you are just right !

    By Anonymous gandon françois albert, at 8/03/2006 09:39:00 PM  

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