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MSU Knows "Why a CIO May Soon Be At the Helm of Your Company"

If you've done a good job of keeping your records up to date at your undergraduate alma mater, you should probably receive at least one publication about what all of your fellow alumnus are up to. I received a Broad Business Magazine from my alma mater, Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business (BA in Policy in Applied Economics, for anyone that is curious!) and it had a terrific article entitled, "Why a CIO May Soon Be At the Helm of Your Company" that I wanted to share with you all. In this article, they identify seven major Chief Information Officer (CIO) roles that could be categorized in two categories: the traditional Infrastructure Management and Soft Skills-Oriented Management. The soft-skills roles include the utilization of good foresight, communication, teamwork and leadership.

Four different roles were identified:
1. Integrator: CIOs lead the enterprisewise digitization and integration of processes, information and decision support so that the firm can effectively leverage enterprise information technologies (e.g., CRM, business intelligence).
2. Organizational Architect: CIOs develop an organizational model that is appropriate for their firm’s priorities and expectations about IT management.
3. Relationship Architect: CIOs form collaborative networks inside the enterprise to help synchronize business and IT management initiatives. At the same time, CIOs develop sourcing networks through vendor relationship management. They use these relationships to go beyond access to cost-effective IT applications and services, to help firms gain access to valuable new IT skills and knowledge.
4. Business Strategist: CIOs act as innovation catalysts and work with their business peers in discovering opportunities for leveraging IT in innovative business models, customer relationships and the pursuit of agility.

Tradition CIO roles include utility provisions, educator, or information steward.

I thought that it was good news to see that the rest of the world is recognizing that the role of information is soon going to be the shaping factor in many organizations, even over that of the responsibilities related to that of the traditional executive officer. This article may help you to see and shape your future career path so that it can ultimately lead you to one of these positions -- or something even more innovative that will evolve in the coming years.

The article can accessed here, or you can read the full text below in the extended entry.

Why a CIO may soon be at the helm of your company
by Vallabh Sambamurthy, Eli Broad Professor of Information Technology, Accounting and Information Systems Department, Eli Broad College of Business

Vallabh Sambamurthy, Eli Broad Professor of Information Technology, Accounting and Information Systems Department, and his colleague, Ritu Agarwal, University of Maryland, published “A Roadmap for Effective CIOs? in the December 2006 issue of Information Week’s monthly magazine Optimize.

Sambamurthy is also the executive director of the Center for Leadership of the Digital Enterprise (CLODE) at the Broad School, an intellectual infrastructure of research projects, databases and case studies that focus on the strategic needs of an innovative corporation. He recently was invited to be a panelist on the topic of “Collaborate to Innovate? at the prestigious INFOCOM conference in Calcutta, India, recognizing his work in bringing academia and IT industry leaders together to promote research projects. You can probably remember when a chief information officer (CIO) was the person in your organization who ultimately made sure the company’s computer network was up and running, and that you and your coworkers could rely on that system to consistently perform key business processes. In itself, maintaining — and continuously upgrading — costeffective, efficient technologies for large, complex enterprises is no small challenge. But today’s CIOs are becoming much more integral to the success of their organizations and will be expected to take on increasingly visible and demanding leadership roles in the near future.

We know this from the research we have conducted over the last five years into the emerging roles of CIOs: Surveys, case studies and our observations of model “digital? organizations all indicate that significant transformations are taking place.


From facilitator to leader
In a recent article published in a practitioner journal with my colleague Ritu Agarwal from the University of Maryland, we identified seven major CIO roles that could be categorized in two ways. In the first category are the standardized functions of utility provider (think infrastructure), educator and information steward. These are familiar roles and they will continue to be important to organizations. The second category of roles is the newer, more visible roles that are emerging. These roles may require an entirely new skill set, sometimes referred to as “soft skills,? including good foresight, communication, teamwork and leadership. In this category, we observed four different roles:

Integrator: CIOs lead the enterprisewise digitization and integration of processes, information and decisionsupport so that the firm can effectively leverage enterprise information technologies (e.g., CRM, business intelligence).
Organizational architect: CIOs develop an organizational model that is appropriate for their firm’s priorities and expectations about IT management.
Relationship architect: CIOs form collaborative networks inside the enterprise to help synchronize business and IT management initiatives. At the same time, CIOs develop sourcing networks through vendor relationship management. They use these relationships to go beyond access to cost-effective IT applications and services, to help firms gain access to valuable new IT skills and knowledge.
Business Strategist: CIOs act as innovation catalysts and work with their business peers in discovering opportunities for leveraging IT in innovative business models, customer relationships and the pursuit of agility.

Our research shows that while most CIOs were uniformly effective in the first category roles (utility provider, information steward and educator), there were striking differences in how well they performed in the second category roles (integrator, organizational architect, relationship architect and business strategist).


CIO with a CEO perspective
Given that the leadership imperative for CIOs is one of assuming a transformational leadership mantle as opposed to being a transactional leader, the current weakness in soft skills is a serious gap in the profession going forward. Many organizations, recognizing this, are investing significant resources in helping to build stronger leadership capability in their CIOs.

Firms need CIOs that:

Understand the business in the same manner as the CEO, and are able to assume profit and loss responsibility. The good news is that CIOs are already in a unique position to understand the drivers of operational excellence in their firms.
Exhibit leadership not only in IT management, but also in persuading, negotiating and driving business change. This involves envisioning new business innovation opportunities, convincing and energizing executive peers about their perspective and negotiating resources to implement the vision.
Can be the face of the organization to customers and other business partners and are able to carefully craft, manage and nurture these extended organizational relationships over time.
To be effective in these roles, CIOs will need to balance their IT knowledge with strategic business knowledge, and they must have strong interpersonal communication skills along with political acumen. They must develop rich professional networks both with key business executives as well as with CIOs of peer companies and the senior executives of key IT vendor and services companies.

But the competitive landscape won’t allow CIOs, future CIOs and their firms to gradually evolve the skills they need. Instead, those of us in business schools are equally challenged to support the development of today’s information systems managers into CIOs, as well as prepare tomorrow’s CIOs from current students.


Preparing CIOs
For business schools, our findings about the emerging roles of the CIO have significant implications. The CIO position is as important an organizational position as other C-level positions. Successful CIOs are likely to emerge from the business ranks of their firm as long as they are savvy about the use of information technology in the business process and strategy. Therefore, educational programs that emphasize the integration of business processes and information technologies are needed. We also need to help develop an appreciation of the business value of IT and along with this, governance structures and processes for IT are needed.

Ideally, business school students who have a strong understanding of key business processes and the strategic role of IT will be better prepared for a CIO career path in the future. Executive education programs are needed that provide opportunities for information systems professionals to develop strategic foresight and business insight as well as leadership, communication and influence skills.

At the Broad School, there are several initiatives and capabilities in place to facilitate the emergence of the nextgeneration CIOs. Historically, we have strong programs in teamwork (including the Team Effectiveness Teaching Lab), negotiation, influence and leadership.

Additionally, the Center for Leadership of the Digital Enterprise (CLODE) partners with CIOs and other senior business leaders in collaborative research on issues of importance to CIOs and their peers. Finally, we are launching weeklong executive education programs (“Converging Business and Technology Management?) in collaboration with the BTM Corporation to provide IT leadership perspectives to information systems professionals and business executives. Such programs will be vital to the nurturing of next-generation CIO leaders.

Posted by kkowatch at October 1, 2007 03:37 PM

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