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CIO: Cheap Information and Chief Improvement Officer

"The focus has been on responding to the recession and putting concerns about IT aside for later."


Alan Cane
Financial Times
22 September 2010

David Elton, a change management specialist at PA Consulting Group, has been quoted extensively in an article in The Connected Business, the Financial Times special report. There is anecdotal evidence that suggests there is an increasing gulf of understanding between some chief information officers and their teams and senior business executives and David comments on whether the perception of chief information officers is changing.

David says that over the past few years he has seen a number of examples where CIOs are slipping down the business hierarchy - for example, they might report to the chief financial officer rather than the chief executive. David explains why this may have happened: "It reflects priorities. The focus has been on responding to the recession and putting concerns about IT aside for later."

David is however quick to point out that the perception does not always reflect the reality: "I could give you a number of examples of companies where the CIO has had considerable attention from senior figures in the business including the CEO. It depends very much on context and what the business is doing.

"In one case, one company was acquiring another and IT was high up the agenda with the usual need to realise cost savings from synergies and the importance of maintaining the continuity of the business during the merger."

David goes on to talk about how CIOs can overcome any barriers which may stop them from communicating their vision to the executive team. He talks about the need to communicate in plain language and of bringing projects in on time and budget. Finally David advised CIOs to avoid the "froth" - the presentation of grand visions for the future of IT in the company that are not grounded in reality.

You can read the article in full here

To find out more on PA's view on CIO challenges, click here.

To read other articles quoting David Elton, please click here.

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