Aligning your CEO and CIO Expectations – what is really going on?

A recent article published by Info-Tech Research polled more than 250 CEO and CIO professionals along with over 2,500 IT department employees and almost 30,000 department managers to determine corporate alignment in today’s fast paced market, and the responses were staggering.

The Info-Tech study can be found here:

The study uncovered some daunting facts that are not for the corporate weak of heart, and was far from what anyone would have expected after all these years of IT being established as a strategic differentiator in today’s marketplace.

Some of the highlights that the study uncovered regarding the CEOs and CEOs polled were:
– 49% are not aligned to their company’s existing technology efficiencies and performance metrics;
– 67% of the leaders admitted to being unclear on the role that IT really plays in their business and know that the targeted functionality for IT needs to be better defined;
– 43% of the leaders overestimate the size of their next budget

Sadly, the study revealed that many companies are not truly aligned with their CEO.

Some more interesting statistics the study publicised were:
– 66% of CEOs do not expect IT to transform the business… a staggering amount of those same CEOs actually don’t feel that IT can transform the business, nor do they want it to.
– CIOs shared that they felt the business is out of touch with IT and vice-versa. Lack of direction, project guidance, employee participation or CxO support for IT is an apparent theme for most businesses, and CIOs are seeking to improve that but feel they do not get proper support.
– 38% of CIOs aim higher than their CEO wants them to.
– CEOs and CIOs feel that the business is not in touch with what is really happening;
– 74% of CEOs demand their CIO do a better job of reporting metrics on the value that IT provides the business along with the respective stakeholder satisfaction with IT.

Ironically, CIOs feel they don’t have the direction they need, and CEOs feel that the CIO needs to define how IT impacts the business more effectively. It’s a conundrum that is similar to the chicken and the egg: which comes first?

Obtaining the data is sometimes a bigger task than it seems. After all, it’s there right? Just report against it, right? Unfortunately, it is not that cut and dry for most organizations.

Mining internal sentiment in the organization and matching it with a roadmap of how to improve process is a lot more complex that one can ascertain. How does one build a “data-driven” IT strategy?

Peculiarly, it comes down to defining IT’s mandate, measuring their performance metrics and analyzing internal capabilities. There is more detective work required that IT analysis up front: asking business units what their short and long-term objectives are, listening to how they feel IT can help, and collaborating on the overall plan is key. Looking at metrics that track IT’s impact on technology performance, business value, stakeholder satisfaction, risk mitigation and costs for all the above only have material relevance once the vision is determined.

The conclusion of it all is that the IT leaders of a company cannot wait for the business to ask them for help – they need to understand all aspects of their CEO’s vision and their corporate vision. Alignment to the journey is key, but even more important is the ability to support their company’s journey and augment efforts utilizing technology as a strategy is even more quintessential.