CIO's Seeking Business Alignment with the CEO

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An recent article at CIO.com entitled "How to Argue with the CEO - and Win" offers 13 tips, culled from current and former CIOs and communication consultants ...with the goal to get the CEO to see the CIO's perspective when arguments about IT spending ensue.

All 13 tips are relevant to BSM, but the one that sticks out to us is #3 -- CIO must Speak in Business Terms. We have heard this loud and clear from CIO's who fought for, and succeeded at getting a seat at the table with the CEO. To succeed at this level, the CIO must be respected for his knowledge and ability to contribute to the discussion about business strategy and operational excellence.

Our interview with Robert Urwiler, CIO at Vail Reports, brought this to the forefront very early on in our discussion. In the interview, Robert demonstrated a deep understanding of the business and discusses the collaborative role of IT regarding resort operations. Robert's story is a great example of the benefits of alignment, but not all CIO's can make that transition.

According to a number of sources, the argument between the CIO and CEO often are a result of poor business communication skills of the CIO. Another CIO,com article entitled "10 Communication Mistakes CIOs Still Make" highlight these communication challenges.

We have been discussing this communication gap at BSMReview for some time. We think there needs to be a new vocabulary that serves as the  bridge for this communication gap. Some people think the responsibility lies solely with the CIO ...that the CIO should develop the business skills required to learn the business.  I disagree in that I think the business also needs to learn something about IT, not at the level of the CIO, but certainly enough to know what IT services and trends directly affect business operations and competitive differentiation. Perhaps an IT 101 course for the CEO and line-of-business executives, and the equivalent course for the CIO on the dynamics of the business.

I have often thought that a set of business-oriented key performance indicators (KPIs) would be a step in the right direction -- linking IT investment and performance to business performance. Sounds a bit like Business Service Management.

At any rate, I wanted to bring this CIO article to your attention. It is well worth reading if you are interested in aligning your IT investment with your business strategy.

Finally, another must read that is related to this entry is the recent interview with Mark Settle, CIO of BMC Software.

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Rick, good articles and highly relevant to BSM. While I agree with the premise that the business community needs to understand more about IT ...I believe the larger issue is how to actually do that. Some IT executives pull this off consistently. Others struggle significantly ...implying that the communicative skill set of the CIO plays a large role. Yet, I'd bet there are some corporate entities where fantastic communicative skills still struggle to deliver the goods.

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This page contains a single entry by Rick Berzle published on June 14, 2011 8:03 PM.

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