The CIO Through the Eyes of the CFOpost by Chris Curran on January 13, 2012
Guest post by Phil Garland
I had the opportunity to have lunch with 8 chief financial officers in Denver last week. Our conversation started with why the CFO should care about IT and what they need to know about technology. Our discussion quickly got to the topic of the roles of the CIO in this changing world of cloud, mobility and social networking. These enabling technologies have made technology much more accessible to non-IT users which raises the question on the role of the CIO and the IT organization in the future. Several CFOs initially questioned whether there is even a need to involve the CIO in making decisions to leverage cloud and mobile applications given that those services are provided outside the four walls of the enterprise. However everyone quickly recognized that there is a need to have someone who is technologically savvy available to advise the CFO and others business leaders on how these emerging technologies can most effectively advance their business.
One CFO described how his CIO has taken on a very active role in partnering with the business units to help drive business innovation. While the CIO had stayed connected with the business units in the past, the conversations have now shifted from tactical IT needs to a more strategic dialogue. He described how the CIO has set up regular innovation meetings with a team from each business unit to discuss ways technology can improve their business. Some of our other clients have taken a similar approach using labs to facilitate the business-IT discussions.
In our discussions there was a realization that the value of the CIO hasn’t been reduced at all – it has just changed. In fact, the need and value that the CIO can play in advancing the business may now be greater than ever. The CFOs agreed that they now need the CIOs to play the role of technology consultant or advisor to help them get the greatest value out of their business driven technology decisions. This provides a need and opportunity for the CIOs to be even more aligned with the business. While CIOs are still needed and expected to manage IT operations and IT vendors, there is now a need for the CIO to also play a more strategic role in helping their company drive business innovation.
How does your CFO view the role of the CIO?