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CIOs top dogs in developing relationships

THE role of chief information officer has become increasingly important to large organisations as technology becomes essential to maintaining a competitive edge.

CIOs have a team of technical people around them and, while they are on top of the IT tree, they need to be very good business managers with exceptional people skills, according to Garnter vice-president and director of research for executive programs, Andrew Dowsell-Jones.

“At a recent presentation this US career IT person said 90 per cent of delivery was technical and 10 per cent was relationships. I would say for a CIO it’s the reverse – 90 per cent is relationships and 10 per cent is doing,” Mr Dowsell-Jones said.

“You tend to find that some companies have the role as chief technical officer and a role for the chief information officer.”

Gartner’s executive program comprises 1800 CIO members worldwide, of which 130 are from Asia Pacific and eight are based in WA.

There are, of course, more than eight CIOs working in Perth, however their numbers are not as prolific as on the eastern seaboard due to the lack of major corporation headquarters, Mr Dowsell-Jones said.

CIO roles are rarely advertised and they are positions that, in some large companies, carry a $1,000,000 salary.

Mr Dowsell-Jones said CIOs tended to be appointed when a new chief executive officer came on board.

“About half of our membership report to the CEO, but it’s not universal. Many times the CIO reports to the chief financial officer or the chief operating officer,” he said.

“There are more CIOs reporting to CEOs.”

Mr Dowsell-Jones believes the role of the CIO will end up being one of a chief operating officer. 

“A good CIO understands the business and can be better than a general manager,” he said.

“The role of CIO will morph over a long period to be the COO and that is because IT is increasingly recognised as nothing different to logistics. About 20 years ago technology wasn’t such that IT didn’t impinge on anything outside of finance. Now technology is fundamental to business.”

Top priorities for CIOs this year were cost reduction, security, privacy and innovation.

“They need to be delivering more for less,” Mr Dowsell-Jones said.

Gartner vice-president for executive programs Asia Pacific, Jose Ruggero, is based in Perth and said that Perth CIOs had to perform well within a limited industry.

“In terms of supply it’s a limited industry to pick from,” he said.

Over the next few weeks WA Business News will be profiling some of WA’s CIOs and ask them what items are on the agenda and what challenges they face as a CIO working in WA.

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