An examination of how the CIO influences his/her peers and to whom s/he reports
The functions of the Chief Information Officer have witnessed major and complex transformations over the last few decades. The role of the chief information officer initially was purely technical support and administration, but apparently, the role of the CIO has shifted and become a high-level task in the business management and leadership structures. The traditional role of the CIO was to help the chief executive manager undertake certain tasks within the organization. Today, the CIO has an executive responsibility and is anticipated to undertake serious functions of the organization including making major decisions in the organization such as the right structures to employ in a bid to boost the profitability of the business.
A considerable research work exists on the role of chief information officer and the desired leadership capabilities associated with peers and the supervisor. However, it is worth noting that there exists a lot of confusion surrounding the role of the CIO especially in comparison to the peers and as a result, this has contributed to a lot of uncertainties regarding behaviors, expectations, and consequences associated with the role of the chief information officer. This paper aims at exploring the role of the CIO from the point of view of the CIOs and the manner in which they perceive their responsibilities in the organization as opposed to the way the other stakeholders expect of them. The paper also looks further at how notions of CIOs influence the supervisors in the top management team and the peers at different levels of the management team. It should be understood that the influence of CIO can vary based on how the role is structured and implemented. Moreover, it should be understood that the influence and the role of the chief information officer revolve around the information systems projects, the process of implementing these projects and the entire process of business strategy in an organization. Therefore any task that the CIO has to partake should be related to how information systems can enhance business development and profitability.
This research paper explores the manner in which chief information officers impact their influence on organizations in a bid to achieve their mission and objectives. To set the context of this study, the paper looks into the nature of influence and particularly the difference between influence and authority bestowed upon the chief information officers. Broadly, influence depicts the ability and capacity of a person to impact change or an effect on other people. Influence behavior differs from authority in that authority is a legitimate act of exercising decisions upon others. Authority implies that the subordinates will agree to the decisions made by their seniors without questioning them.
However, influence means that all the parties have to make amicable agreements on the decisions at hand. This means that the subordinates can criticize the decisions made by their senior managers with the aim of ensuring that they make decisions that cater for the needs of all the stakeholders in the organization. Influence, therefore, revolves around understanding each and working together with a common goal. While authority flows downwards, influence is different since it can influence both upwards and downwards. As such, chief information officers can influence their peers, the junior members of staff and even their seniors in higher management ranks (Preston & Karahanna, 2009).
The relationship between CIO s, their peers and superiors
The contemporary epoch has seen a significant advancement in technology and as such, organizations have become more dependent on IT. This high level of dependence on IT has constantly been transforming the functions and the roles of chief information officer from just a support role to an important role of executing strategies in an organization.
The position of the chief information officer was initiated in the 1980’s in order for an organization to recognize the important place of IT as a way of improving the performance of organizations. The term chief information officer was coined by William Synott and William Gruber who asserted that the CIO is the senior executive responsible for establishing corporate information policy standards and management control over all corporate information resources” (Peppard, 2010). It is worth noting that by 1981 the term chief information officer had been cited only once. However, as ore organization embraced information technology as a major entity in leveraging, the important and attention of CIO continued to increase. Today, the role of CIO looks completely different since they have proven to play a critical responsibility in enabling a business derives its value from utilizing information technology. It should be understood that the kind of influence that CIOs are able to impact depends on their status and position in the organization (Barber, 2012).
CIO roles and functions in the organization have undergone significant changes over the last few decades, and today CIOs are anticipated to experience further changes in the future since technological advancement will continue to be witnessed in the future (Benjamin, Dickinson, & Rockart, 2010). Apparently, the nchief information officer has taken the crucial role of aligning information systems with the objectives and strategies of the business. They are also responsible for developing and maintaining an information infrastructure that meets the organizational needs and structures especially when it comes to information processing. While the role of information systems within the organizations continues to grow, the responsibilities of chief information officers are becoming very critical in all forms of business, and it is expanding both regarding scope and magnitude (Preston & Karahanna, 2009).
Apparently, CIOs can best be described as important enablers in business. This means that businesses that embrace CIO as an important player in their organizations have a high competitive edge since it has become core in all the business processes. Therefore, the role of the CIO has turned from technological aspect to a business perspective. Therefore, the IT infrastructure that CIO has to develop has to therefore fit the needs of the business organization. The success of any IT venture is measured on its ability to bring profitability to the organization. The security of information in business has become an important aspect towards the development of any organization. As a result, the CIO plays an integral role in not only helping a company acquire a high-end technological advancement but also enables a company boosts its profitability since it is meant to make business activities successful (Beatty, Arnett, & Liu, 2005).
CIO influence on the peers
It is paramount that CIOs comprehends the essence of creating and enhancing viable relationships with their peers in the executive management in order to undertake their mandate successfully. For long-term effectiveness, CIO s should encourage a shared vision of the information technology necessary to be implemented in an organization and as such inclusion of the other stakeholders in the organization is important (Stephens, Ledbetter, Mitra & Ford, 2004). Notably, the CIO s function is to come up with the IT-based solutions, but the employees are the ones to undertake the daily operations of the organizations. This means that while working to boost the IT infrastructure, it is crucial that CIOs establish concrete and concise goals that need to be achieved using the IT infrastructure. It should e understood that the CIO is the only person in an organization that is able to interact with all the stakeholders directly. The CIO can communicate directly to the chief executive manager, customers, and all the employees directly and most importantly the IT team is the enabler of the entire organization (Stephens, Ledbetter, Mitra & Ford, 2004).
According to Matlack (2014), the CIO has a difficult trying to establish a healthy and viable relationship with the peers because these executives lack knowledge in the technology background. In influencing, whether the tactics and intentions of the CIO would be successful the technology background of the peers is the most important factor. Another important factor is the personality of the peers which applies to any form of social relationship. It should be understood that the chief information officer is not mandated to change the manner in which other executives approach challenges and address them in the organization (Rockart, Ball & Bullen, 2009). It is therefore essential that the CIO identifies the possible variables and modify his approaches and behaviors towards business solutions so that they concur with the approaches of the peers. This way it would be easy to establish a healthy relationship with the peers. According to Rockart, Ball & Bullen (2009), chief information officers can use the following attributes to establishing a healthy relationship with their peers.
The role of the CIO is best executed if the CIO embraces the right leadership skills. As such, any success oriented CIO should focus more on leadership as opposed to management. Therefore, like other leaders, CIOs should always respect the feelings and perceptions of other people in an organization (Smith,2003). A working environment is full of diverse employees who view issues differently. Therefore for a CIOs influence to be successful he or she must acknowledge and appreciate the opinions of the other stakeholders in the workplace environment. Most importantly CIOs should always ensure that the disagreements are revolved professionally, and they should not be used to gain different perspectives by either the CIO or the peers ( Hattori, 2005).
Recognizing and responding to peers abruptly
The influence on the CIO will be best felt when e or she is able to respond abruptly and attend to the needs of the peers whenever they need the CIO services. The response should be strictly professional and should be geared towards ensuring a positive effect on the relationship between the CIO and the peers. Recognizing the needs of the peers and offering practical solutions to their needs enables the peers to begin to see the positive impact of the CIO in the organization (Hsu, Lee & Straub, 2012).
For a viable relationship between the CIO and the peers to be enhanced the CIO should be willing to adapt to different situations especially when it comes to communication. Though the peers might have a poor background in information technology, the CIO should always strive to make sure that the encounter and engagement is easy. As noted earlier quite often the CIO tends to become technical in all their endeavors which should not be the case (Chun & Mooney, 2009).
Valuing every relationship
It is important that CIOs maintain an active relationship with the peers all the time. As such, for the CIO role to be felt they must understand the needs of their peers. The CIO should always value all the relationship since it is out of these relationships that he or she can maintain a successful its value in an organization (Smith, 2003).
Collaboration and teamwork
Collaboration calls for teamwork whereby all the stakeholders have to work together for a common goal. For CIOs influence to be felt across the organization he or she should be able to collaborate with the peers in all the undertakings, this kind of collaboration often results into new opportunities for both the peers and the CIO (Wisman & Smith, 2003).
Influence on superiors
The CEO -CIO relationship began to evolve in the late 1990’s when the chief information officers from larger organizations began to make direct reports to the chief executive officers. At this time also the CIO’s began to be included and engaged in the senior management decisions. Today all the CIOs work for a CEO either directly or indirectly ad their relationship is symbiotic (Chun & Mooney, 2009). As such, the CIO has important information on how to integrate information technology into the organization while the CIO has crucial role and expertise in the managerial systems of the organization. Therefore both officers have to work together for the survival and the success of an organization. This means that organizations that recognize the importance of IT must have a CIO who offers information on how to best utilize the information technology (Cash & Pearlson, 2004).
According to Grover, Jeong, Kettinger & Lee (2009), CIOs look at their roles and contributions in a positive way viewing themselves as strategic contributors to the development of the organizations. On the other hand the CEO’s look at their role as senior decision-making officers who should make the overall decisions of the organization without any influence. This had led to the conflict and confusion in regards to the relationship between the CIO and the CEO. Most CEOs see the role of the CIO as a threat since today information technology has become the fundamental aspect of organizations growth and development (Grover, Jeong, Kettinger & Lee, 2009).
The differences and the dilemma created by both sides of the CIO and the CEO impact on the manner in which an organization is able to generate value from information technology as well as the executive team. As such, to have a healthy relationship that is based on the organizational goals and needs it is important to set clear the roles and responsibilities of the CEO and those of the CIO (Preston & Karahanna, 2009). A viable relationship between the two should be enhanced by creating hierarchical approach whereby the CEOs make clear expectations from their CIO s while CIO has clearly stipulated needs of the organization as mandated by the CEO (Benjamin, Dickinson & Rockart, 2010).
The hierarchical presentation of the needs and the expectations of both the CEO and the CIO may be represented as;
The needs of the CEO to the CIO developed by smith & McKeen in 2012.
At the first level of the hierarchy where we have the basic and the regulatory needs, the CEO and the CIO should address them amicably since they are important in ascertaining the capital that needs to be invested, operating costs and the return on investment. Governance and communication needs fall under both executives (Peppard, 2010). Here, while the CEO is responsible for coming up with important decisions and procedures on the daily management and governance of the organization, the CIO is responsible for catering for the communication aspects of the organization (Cash & Pearlson, 2004). At this point the CEO should recognize the importance of information technology in a business and as such provide the necessary resources that would enable the CIO to implement a successful information technology infrastructure. It is upon the CIO to inform the CEO of what exactly the organization needs in order to enhance growth through information technology.
The enterprise value needs at the top of the hierarchy demand that the CIO must be committed to offering business value that is consistent with the organizational strategies and needs. CIOs must conduct credible and fair business activities that are most viable towards the success of the organization (Barber, 2012). This is the level where the CIOs must earn their trust to their CEO’S. As stipulated earlier, the CEOS have always been skeptical on the role of the CIO s, and therefore at this point, the CIO is obliged to assure the CEO among other executive supervisors that information technology is a viable tool in providing business solutions through transformation. According to Beatty, Arnett, and Liu (2005), this is the stage where the CIO should define his or her worth in the organization by offering practical and tangible business solutions through IT.
Overall, the CIOs believe that to be successful as a chief information officer individual must possess important attributes of leadership and communication competencies. As such a CIO must be able to maintain a continuous and proper dialogue with the peers as well as the superiors. CIOs view themselves as important people in an organization since they bring together the discords of technology and business. It is important to note that CIOs make the overall its solutions to the organizations and in a world where technology is advancing tremendously; their role cannot be underestimated at all costs. It should, however, be noted that the contributions of the CIO depend on an organization’s ability to embrace information technology as a business strategy. The acceptance of IT by any from relies on the decision made by the chief executive manager. Therefore, if the CEO does not recognize the sense of it in his or her firm, the role of CIOs will not be influential in the overall corporate strategy.
Most importantly, a viable CEO-CIO relationship that is based on mutual understanding and respect is paramount for any success oriented organization. It should be understood that a business value is best achieved when there are teamwork and strategic vision. Therefore, success is only achievable if the CIO and the CEO work together for the benefit of the organization. It is also worth noting that chief information officers should always ensure that the information regarding the success of the organization is secure all the time. The CIO possesses important information about what happens in the organizations, and therefore he or she has to uphold ethics and protect the organizations’ secrecy especially from the competing firms. It is therefore unethical for a CIO to work in many organizations since the security to the information is compromised.
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