Mark McDonald

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark P. McDonald
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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Which are the best opportunities for CIOs to connect with their C Level colleagues

by Mark P. McDonald  |  February 22, 2013  |  Comments Off

There are many ‘reasons’ why the C Level colleagues of the CIO should pay attention.  Frankly many of those arguments about the power of technology, its strategic importance, etc. fall flat in the eyes of fellow C Level executives who have a tough time understanding the connection between technology and changes in business performance.

Ask yourself the following questions.  Who gets together when the enterprise makes a major decision?  Now ask, why are those the people that get together.

The answer to the first question highlights the C Level team that works both formally an informally and that is where the greatest influence and authority rests.  In many companies that top team includes the CEO, CFO, Head of Sales, Head of Operations and Corporate Council (head of legal)  but not the CIO.

Now look as the second question, why are those people getting together?  The answer is simple, because each person gives the CEO an answer to a question that really matters to the company.  Here are the questions each role generally answers.

  • The Head of Sales answers the question about top line revenue and revenue growth — how much money will we make?
  • The Head of Operations answers the question about profitability, abased on the cost of operations — hoe much money will we keep?
  • The CFO is there to answer the question, which of the two (sales and operations) is right and what can we commit to financially?
  • The Corporate Council, head lawyer, is there to make sure that the decisions and actions are legally feasible — can we do that?

Now ask yourself , what question would the CIO answer if they were invited to this meeting?  Certainly its not about the strategic value of technology.

We found that CIOs do answer three important questions in these situations.

The first is around the issue of Speed — how fast can we put plans and decisions into action?

The second is Scale — how can we bring scale efficiencies to the actions or plans?

The final question is Choice — if we go in this direction, how does that limit or create future options.   These are the production functions of IT

So if you are looking to build deeper relationships and engagement with the C Level, think about the questions or issues where you have expertise and can contribute to the answer — those will be the areas where you can build influence.  They are also most often the areas where technology will drive strategic value.

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Category: 2013 Amplifying the Enterprise CFO CIO Leadership Management Strategic planning Strategy     Tags: , , , , ,