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The New Voice of the CIO

voice of cioThe voice of the CIO is being heard in new ways—as CIOs are increasingly recognized as full-fledged members of the senior executive team. Successful CIOs are much more actively engaged in setting strategy, enabling flexibility and change, and solving business problems, not just IT problems.

Today’s CIOs spend an impressive 55 percent of their time on activities that spur innovation. These activities include generating buy-in for innovative plans, implementing new technologies and managing non-technology business issues. The remaining 45 percent is spent on essential, more traditional CIO tasks related to managing the ongoing technology environment. This includes reducing IT costs, mitigating enterprise risks and leveraging automation to lower costs elsewhere in the business.

CIOs universally acknowledge that some of their most important objectives too often seem to clash: How can we support the introduction of new services while avoiding the disruption of existing services? How can I reduce costs while improving services? How will I balance the need to influence business strategy with the need to provide top-notch IT support?

Complementary, yet sometimes conflicting roles

An Electronics CIO summed it up well: “In IT, we are not magicians, but we are certainly jugglers.” On any given day, CIOs are poised for the unexpected, leading an organization that solves a myriad of problems for customers, both internal and external. Without question, IT functions represent the lifeblood of most businesses. But CIOs told us that they can only turn more attention to new technology ideas after addressing current IT needs.

After thousands of interviews, we found that successful CIOs actually blend three pairs of roles. These dual roles seem contradictory, but they are actually complementary. To characterize each role, we have coined a term that describes its dominant quality. At any given time, a CIO is:

• An Insightful Visionary and an Able Pragmatist
• A Savvy Value Creator and a Relentless Cost Cutter
• A Collaborative Business Leader and an Inspiring IT Manager

By integrating these three pairs of roles, the CIO:

Makes innovation real
It’s not enough to just plan for innovation—it needs a robust foundation. When acting as an Insightful Visionary, a CIO is perceptive, promoting a broad technology agenda to help the business profit from leading-edge initiatives. The flip side of the Visionary is the Able Pragmatist role. As a Pragmatist, a CIO deals with the realities of the business. The Pragmatist also facilitates the productivity of current IT solutions to allow more time and budget for innovation.

Raises the ROI of IT
Using IT to produce greater business value is vital, accompanied by an ongoing focus on lower costs and higher efficiency. A Savvy Value Creator finds new ways to help customers and the organization profit from how data is used. The Relentless Cost Cutter, its counterpart, is focused on managing budgets and processes to eliminate or reduce costs.

Expands business impact
To contribute the most to the organization, proven expertise in both business and technical matters is essential. Part of the time, CIOs will engage with the enterprise as Collaborative Business Leaders, to drive new business initiatives and cultural shifts jointly with fellow CxOs. At other times, the Inspiring IT Manager role occupies center stage to motivate the IT organization and deliver superior IT performance.

This excerpt is taken from IBM's Global CIO Study, The New Voice of the CIO. To download the entire paper, click here.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.