Enterpriseleadership.org recently sat down with Peter High, founder of Metis Strategy and author of the book World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumph. Peter talks about the changing roles and importance of CIOs within a business’s infrastructure
By Elizabeth Ferrarini
May 19, 2010
EL. What motivated you to write a strategy book for enterprise IT?
PH. For years, CIOs ranked as second-class citizens in the corporate structure. During the past decade, however, the best CIOs have recognized that they occupy a unique perch within that structure. Their relationship with the business units (like Marketing, Operations, Finance, Human Resources, Operations, and the like) can often times run deeper than the relationship the business units have with each other. As a result, the best CIOs can leverage this relationship to add value and to build the top and the bottom line of the corporation. Likewise, they can drive innovation, as it is prudent for them to engage the very players that are mentioned . I have seen many cases where having the right IT leader in a well-oiled organization can help to bring a diverse group of people to talk about innovation on behalf of the company and on behalf of the customer. Thus, the CIO can facilitate a level of collaboration that does not normally happen. We are on the cusp of a real boom in the power of the CIO role. In fact, more and more CIOs are taking their rightful place as true peers of the other C-level leaders in the organization.
EL. Have you come across organizations that have separate IT innovation groups?
PH. Harrah’s innovation group, for example, evolved from IT into something separate. In the beginning, many of Harrah’s IT people populated this innovation group. As time went on, it drew from people across the organization, in areas such as Operations and Gaming Products. Tim Stanley, Harrah’s CIO, was chosen to head this group. As the story goes, during a meeting with the CEO and other executives, Stanley wrote down on a note that the company needed an innovation team. He added a P.S. that he did not want to be the head of the team, however. The CEO convinced Stanley to assume the other “CIO” role- chief innovation officer-as well. As time evolved, the group had a link to IT through Stanley. The separation from IT gave the innovation group a separate degree of visibility. Stanley spent two days a week on innovation and the other three days on IT and product development.
To read the remainder of the interview, please visit Enterprise Leadership.