Some weeks back we discussed the fact that Fortune 250 CIOs have remarkably limited engagement in social media. Indeed, it is so remarkably limited that there should be a slew of vacancies – once their bosses work out what is (not) going on.
Now comes a report that both underlines the seriousness of this situation for companies with an interest in the 21st century, and partly explains it. 42% of major company CIOs report to the CFO. In smaller companies it rises to 60%. Plainly, in half our corporations we are working with a depressingly old-economy model in which the CIO and the IT team are seen as technicians placing and maintaining the interconnected typewriters and filing cabinets which constitute the comms/data systems of the firm. Routine stuff, to be kept under the spendthrift thumb of the spreadsheet guy. (Really, who could make this stuff up?) So: CFOs have a major role in CIO recruitment as well as supervision and budget. And they are hardly likely to demand personal engagement in social media (what’s that?). If 4/250 CIOs blog, the proportion for CFOs is probably well under zero.
What these studies have highlighted is a cavern of unawareness deep in the heart of half our companies (at least).
My take? There shouldn’t be a soul in the C Suite who is not personally splashing around in the social space. If that sentence were taken to heart in the bastions of the U.S. corporate scene, it’s hard to conclude they would not be much better placed for what comes ahead. Because “social” is becoming central to marketing, product development, customer relations, and everything else that determines success – and the more central the younger the customer base.
Take home? CEOs and CIOs need to become best friends;and the CFO needs to be taken out of the loop, like tomorrow. The CIO/CMO relationship is also explored in this poll, and needs to be close. One problem with the whole “C” way of looking a things is that by defining executive leadership in functional terms it is increasingly out of kilter with the cross-functional efforts that emerging technologies and their social impacts enable and bring to the center of tomorrow’s needs and opportunities – and that, mercifully, excellent organizations have learned to engage at all levels.
Perhaps the CIO is an anachronism of the days of “IT.” We are now post-IT. IT itself offers a component within the CIO role, but the CIO is not CITO. The CFO reporting stats suggest that is exactly how he/she is (still) seen. The issue is information, not technology. Information is the business of every function. The CIO needs to emerge as the information leader, the Chief Knowledge Broker (CKB), of the organization. With techies to back up as and when needed. The last person on the planet to whom the CKB should be reporting is an accountant.
My piece in response to the Fidelman/HBR report:
The post I am responding to here: