Fewer CIOs are members of company boards of executive management teams — down 9% year-over-year to 65%, according to a Harvey Nash and KPMG 2018 survey of almost 4,000 IT leaders. About two-thirds of IT leaders view the CIO role as increasingly strategic, also down from last year.
Strategy in the enterprise is lagging and less than one-third of companies have an enterprisewide digital strategy. Companies with a dedicated or acting chief digital officer are more than twice as likely to have a clear strategy.
Less than one-third of CIOs describe their digital strategy as more than moderately effective. The most successful CIOs focused more on revenue generation, and customer-centric organizations are almost 40% more likely to be more profitable than other companies.
Being an effective technology leader with a comprehensive strategy, effective soft skills and necessary fluency in both business technology is only half the battle. Technology leaders also need a seat at the table, or at least frequent access to the table.
Yet even in 2018, it is too often the case that CIOs, CDOs, CTOs and other technology leaders do not get the opportunity to make their case.
CIOs are expected to be more customer-facing than ever before, increasingly helping to guide customers from beginning to end and figure out what problems to address and how and what solutions to use, according to Eric Johnson, CIO of Talend, in an interview with CIO Dive.
Using peer networks can also make CIOs and other technology leaders more effective by establishing references and creating windows into what peers are doing. CIOs interface with other IT leaders frequently and need to build up relationships in the industry, according to Johnson.
Zuora CIO Alvina Antar set up the Subscription CIO Exchange in 2016, which gathers digital enterprise leaders in the subscription economy space in a private, closed-doors setting to discuss the challenges of supporting transformation, solutions and strategies as well as share advice and lessons.
The exchange helped created a small community of trusted leaders that respect and support one another, setting up a framework to share knowledge and improve transparency, according to Antar.
When it comes to dealing with the board, CIOs and other digital leaders are often only given a few minutes to make their case — precious time that is often cut even short right before they go up, according to Khushbu Pratap, principal research analyst at Gartner, speaking at the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit in National Harbor, Maryland on Monday.
Technology leaders need to keep the three M's of marketing in mind when speaking to the board: market (the other executives), message and media (the means of presentation), according to Pratap. The board cares about strategy, risk oversight and business outcomes, not operations, management or tech details, and tech and security leaders need to address that in their presentations.
If a strategy or program proposal cannot be simplified into clear, single sentence pieces, then the board may not follow. Long, detailed explanations of technology need to give way to clear business language, single digits and primary colors, said Pratap.