Does the CEO Care About IT?post by Chris Curran on February 18, 2010
In his latest post, IT project failure expert and writer Michael Krigsman beautifully summarizes the risks associated with the lack of CEO and senior business leaders engagement in information technology investments. Developing support and engaging all of the business leaders in strategic use of IT is a problem Diamond has been studying and helping clients address since our inception in 1994.
A few years ago, we launched a broad annual study we call Diamond Digital IQ which set out to get some insights into the problem that Michael discusses and the challenges associated with connecting the enterprise’s strategic objectives with the actual business value, which often comes several years after the big ideas are hatched. To get a “fair and balanced” view, half of the 592 surveyed are business leaders and half are IT leaders.
Here are five questions from our 2010 survey questions related to the senior business executive support for IT.
1. Our CEO or senior-most business leader is an active champion in the use of information technology to improve our business
The promise of a fully integrated organization in which there is no “business” and “IT” must begin at the top. Information technology (the capability) must be seen by all business leadership as both a driver of growth and a tool to improve efficiency. While 64% of respondents agreed with this statement, it’s incredible to me that it’s not in the 80-90% range. While I didn’t explain this in detail, the industries included in the survey are large or very large companies in banking, financial service, insurance, consumer products, etc.
2. Our CIO is very involved in the business strategy development process
This question indicates the senior management team’s buy-in of the importance of IT at the next level of detail. If only 54% agree with this statement, what are the other 46% doing? An insurance executive told me a story of a claims initiative that some colleagues in “the business” brought to him which they later approved. It involved taking images, video and audio to better understand the claims and so that more of the reviews and QA could be done remotely by experts. Late in the project, one of the managers came back to him and admitted a big mistake that would cost them several million dollars. Apparently, they forgot to estimate any storage for all of the digital media.
3. Business Executives are very confident in the company’s IT capabilities
Half think that the business leaders are neutral or negative in terms of IT’s capabilities. My colleagues Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross at MIT believe that service delivery is the basis for everything else. I wonder if there is just some poor blocking and tackling that is at the root of this?
4. Our CIO is recognized as a BUSINESS leader, not just as a leader of IT
Over half of the responses say that the CIO is not recognized as a business leader. I’d be interested to know how this correlates with the CEO’s stance on IT (question #1 above). I would also like to know how these CIO’s spend their time versus those who are seen as business leaders. (I will write another post soon on the how a CIO spends his/her time.)
5. The CIO lacks productive working relationships with the Business Leaders
Forty-seven percent say they are neutral or negative on the CIO-business working relationship. Since these are the people we surveyed, they should know. I’d be interested to know your experience in good and bad day-to-day working relationships and techniques you or others have used to improve them.
The value gained from IT in an organization depends on everyone’s ability to understand it and access it. The attitude and culture required to embrace IT starts at the top.