From geek to chic: collaborative CIOs surrender some control as they herald increasing influence

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Gone are the days of the IT chief in wrinkle-free pants and a pen in his shirt pocket hiding somewhere in the crevices of your company. Today’s chief information officer is as well-heeled, articulate and confident when meeting clients and collaborating on company-wide strategy as the rest of the C-suite. These generously compensated and highly respected executives are making a greater impact throughout their organizations, even as they give up some direct control by working more openly and closely with the other key decision makers.

The quickly evolving CIO role is more collaborative, business-facing and multi-skilled, and is shaping the way companies operate, according to the 8th annual Harvey Nash USA 2013 CIO Survey. The majority, or 71%, of CIOs believe their job is becoming more strategic, and 36% now report directly to the CEO, compared to 21% in 2010. Half of of U.S. CIOs are effecting business change, and nearly half (47%) are managing an increasing IT budget.

But as they’re growing more influential, CIOs are losing more direct control of their technology vision and sharing it with other departments. According to the survey, 43% of CIOs believe there is a degree of shared ownership of digital technology between the IT and marketing teams. More than a third (38%) of CIOs say more than 10% of their budgets are controlled outside of the IT department: compared to 34% in 2012 and 26% in 2011.

“My first reaction to this article is that yes, the role of the CIO has changed such that it’s not solely about maintaining a technology infrastructure – that is the baseline commodity skill and is table stakes at this point. The real distinguishing value is in being able to take technology and apply it to the business problems of your specific organization,” the CIO of a major Boston money management firm told eFinanicalCareers.”This means not only understanding technology trends and capabilities, and where they are going, but how that can be turned into business enablers. The true innovation for in-house IT professionals is in applying technology rather than simply deploying it.”

The global report examined how attitudes among CIOs working in the financial services industry compare with the average for all industries.

  • Nearly half (43%) of financial services CIOs say there has been a budget increase in the past year, which is the average across industries.
  • Just 5% of financial services CIOs say they are concerned that they are not well prepared for a cyber-security incident, compared with 13% in general.
  • Less than half (42%) of those in financial services believe collaboration can add value as a disruptive technology, compared with 52% across industries.
  • Financial services CIOs are more driven by innovation, with 29% saying innovation potential  s being "somewhat" achieved, 3% more than the general average.
  • When it comes to compensation, 26% of those in financial services reported a pay raise in the last 12 months, compared with 29% across the board. Still, the majority (76%) in financial services say they are satisfied with their remuneration package, compared with the 70% average.

“The integration with the marketing team, a direct line to the CEO, a growing dependence on outsourcing and the recent surge of BYOD (bring your own device) have led the CIO to stamp an IT footprint well outside the walls of his department,” said Harvey Nash USA President and CEO Bob Miano. “The role of the CIO is undergoing a paradigm shift that is presenting incredible opportunities. The CIO’s role continues to grow in influence, with a vision for the organization at the highest level, to drive organizational change and significantly impact company performance in brand new ways.”

More than 2,000 CIOs and IT leaders around the world participated in the 15th annual Global CIO Survey. The U.S. section surveyed 330 U.S. IT leaders: 58% were CIOs and other C-level executives; 32% were senior vice presidents or directors of IT. The survey was conducted online from Jan. 2 through March 5.

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