Forrester recently concluded that the CIO was more important. As we read this news, we should keep in mind that Forrester is a primarily a technology analyst firm whose major buyers are CIOs and those in their staff. However, I do see merits in their claim, as well as some concerns about it. It is partially based on a survey of 101 North American and European respondents involved in s a business transformation project in the past three years. This research revealed that 29 percent of respondents believed the CIO to be the most important figure in terms of supporting and driving business change. This was the highest amongst the C-suite, and followed by the CEO who was seen as most important by 24 percent of respondents.
It also makes sense with the rising role of technology in business transformation. I think that most people would agree that CIOs are more important than CEOs in architecting the transformation. CEOs should be more important for setting the goals of the transformation. Forrester VP and principal analyst Marc Cecere was quoted as saying, ““After the strategy phase, 80 percent of the work and activity falls under the role of the CIO, so a strong role for a CIO is a given.” However, I think this alignment of resources might be a mistake. In my experience the success of a transformation is directly involved in the amount og employee input in its design and the amount of resources assigned to the people side of the change. There needs to be a balance. I also do not agree with those who say transformation is 90% a people issue.
Asking the right question is often the key. I do not think it is matter of who is more important. The most important question is rather: are all the C-level executives working together to achieve the transformation? It is not a matter of one being more important than the other. Asking that question can take us done the wrong path. I am sure this was not Forrester’s intention and I am being a bit picky to make a point.
The CIO role has come a long way from being generally under the CFO because technology was used to manage the finances to having technology a key part of most work. Technology has moved from a focus on transactions to interactions. Supporting collaboration is now the key. This collaboration needs to be modeled by the c-suite.