CIOs are board level influencers

CIOs are board level influencers

"Because IT is now central to competitive strategies, product strategies, and all parts of the value stream, it must support change at the speed of business," says former CIO and author Mark Schwart in his book A Seat at the Table.  In his book Schwartz is grappling with the concept of the CIO and CTO as a member of the board in the age of Agile teams and iterative product cycles. Whatever the development methodology of an organisation, as Schwartz identifies, IT is part an parcel of all elements of the organisation, its products and routes to market, so you would expect that the debate of whether the CIO should be on the board to have been consigned to history. That though is not the case, the debate rages on, but should it? Is there a problem with technology being at the board? Or, is technology benefited from not being a permanent member of the executive table?

Earlier this year global recruitment firm Harvey Nash and professional services business KPMG found in their annual CIO survey that the number of CIOs on the board has fallen for the third year in a row. 58% of the CIOs surveyed around the world were on board, down from 65% in 2018 and 71% in 2017. Interestingly, the survey found that CIOs are "relaxed" about the trend.

"Many technology leaders are very relaxed about whether they sit on the board. What they care more about is having the appropriate access and influence, and a supportive CEO to help them see their vision through," the Harvey Nash report says.

"We're seeing more reporting lines to the Chief Executive and fewer reporting to the CFO," says Natalie Whittlese, Director of UK CIO Practice at Harvey Nash. "There has been a real shift in reporting to people who are growth driven and future-focused, rather than those who control costs. This is the case across various sectors."

For some CIOs and some organisations being on the board is the way the CIO can be influential. Darren Martin, CTO of global engineering firm Wood Group has a board level position and this has enabled him to challenge the business in its journey to remodel itself.

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Mark Chillingworth

Mark Chillingworth is a CIO and CTO journalist, ghost writer, moderator and advisor with over 11 years experience. From 2010 to 2016 he was Editor in Chief of the award-winning CIO UK. In 2011 he created the CIO 100, an annual transformation power list of the UK’s most influential CIOs and launched the UK’s first CIO Podcast in 2016.

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