CIOs are endangered species

CIOs are endangered species

Technology has failed to deliver on its promises and senior IT professionals are paying with relegation

Only one in three chief information officers (CIOs) report to the chief executive, compared with more than 50 per cent five years ago, and only 46 per cent have a board position, according to new research.

The lack of executive influence is causing record levels of job dissatisfaction and could spell the end of the CIO role altogether, say experts.

One in 10 IT directors say their role is becoming less strategic, 15 per cent more will leave jobs this year than last, and more than half expect a move within the next two years, according to an annual survey by recruitment firm Harvey Nash.

The problem is that technology has failed to deliver on its promises and senior IT professionals are paying for it with relegation down the pecking order, said Harvey Nash managing director John Whiting.

“The vicious circle is that when the CIO does not have the strategic input at the beginning of a project, they are then too far down the food chain to influence and be an effective enabler of the business,” he said.

The trend to less strategic input has serious implications for the CIO role.

One possible outcome is that the job splits into two – a business-focused position and a complementary chief technical officer function, said Roger Fulton, vice president at analyst Gartner.

“IT leaders need to think about their own careers and where their contribution creates the greatest value, because who they report to may be constraining that,” said Fulton.

Even the term CIO will not exist in 10 years, according to the present titleholder at a major retail bank. “Technology is becoming so pervasive that having one person on the board responsible for IT everywhere is not a credible model,” he said.

IT executives recognise there is more to be done to communicate to other board members how technology can deliver competitive advantage, said Nick Kirkland, managing director of networking group CIO Connect.

“Specialised training is one way forward and our members are addressing the problem with increased focus on the softer skills of project management, leadership and communication,” said Kirkland.