Many CIOs tell us their role is changing. Beyond managing their enterprise’s IT organization, these days some CIOs own business processes; others have revenue targets; most manage a network of external partners, suppliers, and customers; and still others manage shared services developed by HR, financial services, and sourcing. Digitization of the business creates exponentially more connections between individuals, enterprises, devices, and governments. This enables easier transactions, collaboration, and social interactions; breaks down traditional industry boundaries; and changes how profits are made.
To understand how digitization is changing the role of the CIO, MIT CISR and Harvey Nash looked at how CIOs currently allocate their time; how allocations have changed over the last decade; what CIOs at top-performing enterprises do differently from those at bottom-performing enterprises; and how industry affects CIO time allocations.[foot]MIT CISR added several questions to the Harvey Nash/KPMG 2016 CIO Survey (N=553) and analyzed data related to those questions. Some of the results in this briefing were previously published in a special report by Stephanie L. Woerner and Peter Weill, “CIOs—A Career Choice Ahead?” Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, http://www.hnkpmgciosurvey.com/ special-report-mit-cisr/. Harvey Nash (http://www.harveynash.com/) is a global executive recruitment consultancy; KPMG (http://www.kpmg.com/) is a global professional services firm.[/foot]
CIO Time Allocation: Major Activities, and CIO Types by Focus
In previous research, MIT CISR found that CIOs allocate time to four major activities, with most CIOs devoting some time to each area:[foot]P. Weill and S.L. Woerner, “How CIOs Allocate Their Time,” MIT Sloan CISR Research Briefing, Vol. VIII, No. 1A, March 2008, https://cisr.mit.edu/publication/2008_03_1a-ciotimealloa-weilwoerner.[/foot]
- Managing IT services: Managing the IT unit and ensuring delivery of IT services across the enterprise at the desired cost, risk, and service levels. Includes working with vendors and other partners
- Working with non-IT colleagues: Working with non-IT colleagues on business strategy, business processes, digital governance, new product development, compliance and risk, and investment prioritization
- Working with customers: Meeting with the enterprise’s external customers, partners, and colleagues as part of the sales or service delivery process, including establishing electronic linkages (e.g., APIs) with customers
- Managing enterprise processes: Managing processes in areas outside of IT such as non-IT shared services, product development, operations, corporate responsibility, sustainability, HR, and a range of special projects
These different CIO activities simultaneously pull CIOs in four directions. In figure 1 we show average CIO time spent on each of the four activities both ten years ago and now—and the change is dramatic. Here are some highlights:
- There has been a 60% increase in time spent by CIOs with external customers, particularly with sales targets. CIOs of enterprises as varied as Microsoft, Raytheon, and State Street Corporation spend at least one day a week with external customers.
- CIOs spend significantly less time collaborating with senior colleagues. This might seem surprising, as many CIOs aspire to have a seat at the table and be more aligned with the business. But it turns out that the real benefit created by being embedded comes from simplifying digital governance, expediting investments in connectivity, and identifying where technology can add new value. Once such efforts have been completed, successful CIOs reduce allotted time to about 25% and shift focus to enterprise processes or customers.
We identified four types of CIO,[foot]P. Weill and S.L. Woerner, “The Future of the CIO,” MIT Sloan CISR Research Briefing, Vol. IX, No. 1, January 2009, https://cisr.mit.edu/publication/2009_0101_FutureOfTheCIO_WeillWoerner.[/foot] each with a primary focus, based on above-average time spent in each of the four major activities identified above:
- Services CIO: Emphasizes the “lights on” aspect of the CIO job
- Embedded CIO: Concentrates on relationships with colleagues
- External Customer CIO: Regularly meets clients of the enterprise and might have revenue targets as part of the job
- Enterprise Processes CIO: Takes an enterprise-wide view of the organization, concentrating on building out end-to-end processes and shared services, thus leveraging the platform
The CIOs in our current and previous studies typically allocated time to at least two of the four activities and sometimes allocated time to all four activities. A CIO’s type is a matter of emphasis, determined both by what the enterprise needs and the career aspirations of the CIO.