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The Newest CIO Role?

by Debbie Wilson  |  January 30, 2009  |  2 Comments

I had the opportunity to visit several end-user clients over the last week.  I confess that this is one of my favorite duties here at Gartner.  Face to face meetings allow an incredibly greater depth of conversation than a phone call, and when I see someone with my own two eyes I feel like I’ve really met them.   

In these end-user recent visits I noticed something interesting.  In two of seven organizations, the CIO was recently given a second role – hold your breath – Chief Procurement Officer (CPO)!  I’ve seen this phenomenon in other companies, and maybe it was just luck of the draw this week that I saw it twice more.  Its happened enough over the past year that it seems like we may have a trend.  

The two people I met this week with this newly minted dual role work at services companies – one in financial services, the other business services.  From our conversations, I could see how this combination makes sense.  In services industries, IT spend is often a significant percentage of the overall purchasing budget.  And purchasing itself is becoming increasingly supported by technology – witness my role at Gartner!   

Even in manufacturers, indirect procurement can be a migratory function.  I can remember clearly how in my former alma mater, Bay Networks, indirect procurement in the ‘90s reported to supply chain operations, then facilities, then the CFO, and then finally to a CPO.  

CIO- hmmmmm this is interesting. 

If the top slot in your procurement organization is open – consolidating the two functions could even be spun as a cost-cutting measure . . . . . .

Category: cost-cutting  e-procurement  procurement-staffing  

Deborah R Wilson
Research Vice President
8 years at Gartner
15 years IT industry

Deborah Wilson, a Gartner research vice president, covers procurement strategies and applications. Her areas of interest include procure-to-pay, e-marketplaces, e-sourcing, spend analysis, services procurement and supply risk assessment. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on The Newest CIO Role?


  1. Very interesting observation Debbie!!! I can see that the approaches to both the CIO and CPO business domains would need the same disciplined approach, balancing performance and risk. With the complexities of IT spend I can see how this could translate to keep an eye on other areas.

  2. Great post, Debbie.

    I have been doing research for an upcoming presentation on the path to becoming CPO and you and I both reach a similar conclusion – a career dedicated to procurement is not how many CPO’s arrive at their positions.

    After I’ve completed my research, we should compare notes.

    Keep up the great work.

    (P.S. Can you do anything about the Captcha that is used on the Gartner blogs – darn, they are so hard to read!)



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