How can CIOs contribute to revenue growth?


blog Most businesses tend to see their IT department as a cost centre, and allocate funds to it accordingly. But with most industries being rapidly affected by technological change, many companies are starting to realise that bringing their chief information officer in to their strategy meetings can have a big impact. The CIO of ING Direct, Andrew Henderson, has some interesting comments on the matter over at the PicNet blog:

“CIOs can contribute to the generation of revenue by ensuring that they maintain close relationships with their business counterparts. It is crucial for the effective utilisation of technology, that CIOs and their team are able to bring the potential of technology to the table very early in the gestation of a new idea. This allows time for the value proposition to be developed, but also gives the business the chance to fully leverage the power they have in their ICT teams.”

The most switched on CIOs these days that I speak to don’t speak of themselves as being part of an IT department or focused on IT — in fact, much of the IT actually fades into the background, as they’re constantly talking about their company and its aims, not the IT department’s aims ;)

Of course, in practice much IT department work is still focused on technical outcomes. But IT seems to work best when it’s part of the entire organisation’s strategy rather than in a world of its own.

Image credit: Jay Lopez, royalty free


  1. CIOs need to stop focusing on cost management, stop focusing on a scarcity paradigm, stop taking a defensive standpoint. They need to free themselves from the damaging view that they are the keepers of the keys, the guardians against stupidity and carelessness.

    This view is so damaging to the company and the CIO. Yes, CIOs need to safeguard the company’s intellectual property and ensure that everything is safe and recoverable in the event of a disaster scenario, but this view should only ever be a prerequisite, not an end.

    CIOs need to be facilitators, enablers, guides, mentors, advisors, business partners. Technology can be used to dramaticaly change the way the business operates and CIOs are (or should be) well positioned to encourage and enable this change. For example, introducing the business to modern marketing automation systems, demonstrating how synergies can be gained by integrating systems together from both within the organisation and outside.

    At the end of the day, the CIO needs to get inside the head of the business heads and help them see what might be possible in a way that makes the technology completely transparent.

    When technology is seen as a barrier to innovation, businesses are limited in their imagination. When technology is taken on faith that anything is possible, all of a sudden, barriers to innovation and growth just become noisy distractions that need to be quashed on the road to business improvement.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Alan — I mean, there is no doubt that CIOs do need to keep quite a lot under control. But then so does every department. The CFO is so much more effective when he’s not just focused on delivering the basics, but is actively rooting out opportunities for change within the company. The same is true of the CIO, but often dramatically more so — CIOs are often in 2011 right at the heart of business change in companies. It’s why we’re starting to see many IT departments merged with operations, as the role of IT is changing.

      I like also how the gradual commoditisation of certain aspects of IT is also freeing up internal resources for really cool change projects :)

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