Why CIOs don’t belong on the board

We did a fascinating interview with IT industry evangelist and FT.com columnist Ade McCormack yesterday (watch this space) and he shared some controversial ideas about CIOs and IT departments being ‘damaged brands’.  Made us think.

Ade feels that it’s time to give up the idea of CIOs belonging on corporate boards. To Ade, CIOs are too wrapped up in data centres and PC support issues to ever really deliver the kind of transformation and innovation that businesses need.  It’s not just because they’re perceived as back-office specialists, it’s because they are back-office specialists.

Ade says that the IT function needs to be split into the operational part (which can often be outsourced), the business IT role (he calls it ‘business entwinement’) and the innovation role (which may not even be driven by technologists).  Not many CIOs would accept Ade’s characterisation of their current status, but I imagine many would recognise it.

He also talks about how CIOs have been further humiliated during the recession, with budgets being slashed to the bone and the IT function being pushed further from the front line of innovation.  For all the lip-service paid to the idea of investing through recession, innovation still equals risk and cost in most boardrooms.  It’s the rare CIO and board that properly values the strategic role of information in every business.

Are visionary CIOs as rare as Ade McCormack believes?


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