The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds

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Lead Cincinnati sat down with 25 CIOs to discuss technology and innovation. Click on the 'play' button to the right to begin the slideshow, or click on the names of the individual CIOs below to go to their interview. 

In the not-so-distant past, Information Technology was viewed as but one of many resources intended to help businesses accomplish their strategic goals. IT’s role mainly involved data collection and the protection of that information. The business executives would strategically apply that data to business initiatives. Meanwhile, if the technology hardware broke or the information system(s) failed, the IT department diligently made the necessary repairs to regain operational functionality. In theory, it was a seamless transactional relationship: the business executives set the strategy and IT provided and maintained the technological tools to enable the plan. 

The term Chief Information Officer (CIO) emerged in the United States in the late 1980s, becoming the first tangible evidence of IT professionals rising to an executive level. Despite this elevation, the functional role of the IT worker, commonly referred to as the “manager of electronic data,” changed very little. The title of CIO was seen merely as ornamental. Yet as the responsibilities and demands of data managers began to change from number crunchers to business strategists, the IT professional occupied a legitimate place at the executive table. Today, one is hard pressed to discover a successful organization that has not integrated the IT executive into the fabric of the business decision-making process.

LEAD Cincinnati sat down with 25 technology executives to understand current practices and trends, as well as successes and challenges within their professions and organizations. Each participant brought a unique perspective based on his or her respective industries, organizational circumstances and diverse personalities.

The discussions revealed common themes. Almost every participant stressed the importance of developing relationships, based on trust, between the technology and business leaders. If the business executives don’t trust the CIO or CTO (or vice versa) then an unstable, transactional relationship results, rather than a trustworthy, strategic partnership. An alignment of business and IT goals is key, but relationships without trust are more prone to failure.

Another theme involves IT’s role within business risk. Business leaders need to know what risks are involved when considering IT options. Is the proposed technology worth the risk? What impact will a system overhaul have on the total cost of ownership? Although due diligence was the assumption, no foolproof formula to reduce or eliminate risk was proposed. Yet the consensus was unanimous – not advancing in technology to avoid risk would result in certain organizational stagnation or even death. Risk is simply part of today’s norm within business/IT strategy.

Sitting across the table with these IT leaders, a fundamental reality became clear: the future of business is technology. Business without the strategic integration of technology and IT experts will become the exception, not the norm.

LEAD Magazine would like to thank all of the participants who made this section not only possible, but enlightening as well. 

 

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The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds

1 of 27

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