A Crowded Boardroom: CIOs versus CFOs

c-level standoffThe mantra of doing more with less has become more pervasive during the recent dour economy, and the boardroom hasn’t become immune to this cry, either. Trying to find and maintain a place at the C-level dinner table is becoming more difficult than ever. CIOs are becoming well aware of this as CFOs are taking this opportunity to try to eliminate or minimize this role as a cost cutting measure.

With IT teams having diminished in size since 2007, it’s becoming critical that CIOs delineate themselves and establish traction regarding their collective importance and the imprint their teams are making company wise. CFOs are wanting to wield as much budgetary influence as possible and having to compete with an executive/colleague that is challenging his or her influence over monetary decisions and how IT resources are being best allocated and this has created a clash within many organizations.

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Doctor Larry Tieman, a veteran CIO, has noted that CIOs who don’t already have a lot of credibility with their executive peers, who haven’t built up political capital over the years and who haven’t initiated and communicated to the executive team a thorough IT restructurings are at the greatest risk and will be the first ones to go. As I call on more managers, I’m noticing the increase of job titles changing from CIO to IT Director. I haven’t been able to determine if that’s a trend or sheer coincidence. What I do see as a way to break the cycle and for CIOs to take on greater control is the hopeful optimism that has been predicted for an economic rebound in the second half of 2013. If revenues increase and become consistent, this is a great time for CIOs to reaffirm their importance and show the value of having a greater impact on an organization. A flagging economy creates disgruntlement but a thriving one tends to create a renewed sense of urgency to create more revenue regarding companies investing at greater levels.

A place in which most companies start that investment is with technology. If a CIO can show how technological enhancements or having the latest and greatest can make greater inroads toward a company’s overall financial gain, this can help determine the intermediate future for IT leadership and their direct reports. Only time will tell but CIOs have to be cognizant and strategic regarding making impactful changes in relation to a company’s outcome. The next 12-18 months are going to be crucial in determining the alignment of power within organizations and who has it.

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Michael Barefoot
Michael Barefoot is senior account executive at Red Zone Resources. He can be reached at mikeb (at ) redzoneresources (dot) com.

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