CIOs as Value Creators


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CIO’s Can Be True Value Creators

CIO’s can be true Value Creators. Why aren’t they and why are they not viewed as such?

Adjunct to these questions is: Why are they considered staff people? In a day and age where IT and ITES are so relevant and key to businesses, shouldn’t they be line people?

A “line function” is one that directly advances an organization in its core work. This always includes production and sales, and sometimes also marketing. A “staff function” supports the organization with specialized advisory and support functions (Wiki definition).

Sadly, CIO’s are not known to directly advance the organization’s core work. Why? Why do they play second fiddle? The bigger leadership on big data, digital media etc. is taken by the marketing people, who are ill equipped to understand and use the technology. CIO’s should be taking the lead, and holding Marketing’s hands in using such technologies. They should take an evangelising role in internet, intranet and web based solutions, in digital media and in big data, to mention a few areas.

Is this because traditional functions remain traditional? Or is it because the concept of Value Creation has not caught up with CIO’s? Or CIO’s view efficiencies, controlling software development spends as Value Creation, but not leadership in bringing in new technologies and getting others to use these wisely and usefully? How much time would be saved if they took the lead, and marketing followed their advice? Today CIO’s get involved when there are IT problems or when someone asks them to address a particular software or digital media related issue, or when they are instructed to build a platform.

An example of a proactive CIO is HP Global CIO and senior vice president Ramon Baez who explains in an interview to CIO publisher emeritus Gary Beach how the new business drivers of cloud and mobile contribute the bottom and top lines. He also discusses IT costs, security, the need for top IT talent and the increased speed necessary to compete in today’s business environment. It used to take three weeks to provision a database. Now it takes five minutes in a cloud environment, says Baez.

Why can’t he be considered a line guy?

Vishal Bindra, CEO of ACPL a security and service firm in IT had the following comments:

1. Many CIO’s are not sure they can add any value. They listen to people like Gartner and KPMG and follow them “almost” blindly.

2. They are technology and not process/customer driven. Better processes and customer focus will have a more direct impact on business.

3. Unfortunately, in the last few years is they have become a much pampered lot by IT Product companies and they are becoming too biased in their decision making.

On the other hand we have some great CIOs who have contributed and become the integral part of organisation’s business, such as people at Apollo Tyres, Perfetti, and Maxlife.  They have all been contributing to business and using “Information” not Technology.

Jeanne W. Ross and David F. Feeny of the Centre for Information Systems Research at the Sloan School of Management reached the conclusion that the Chief Information Officer has emerged as a critical executive position in most organizations. Increasingly, CIO’s sit on firms’ executive teams and help shape organizational strategy. His role is to be a Business Visionary.

Do CEO’s need to re-assess their old fashioned ideas of business organisations and give CIO’s a line role? Do CIO’s need to understand that creation of value is their job, or do they need to understand what value they can create? Do business schools need to teach Value Creation for CIO’s, and for leadership roles?

CIO’s need to ready themselves for leadership and Value Creation roles.

Your comments are welcome.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value ( and runs the global conference on Creating Value (


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