Chief information officers (CIOs) must exert more influence and do a better job of adding value to their company or risk being left out of business decisions, warn senior IT executives.
In too many cases, CIOs are taken out of the IT procurement process because they struggle to exert the right political influence, according to IT directors speaking at the IDC European IT Forum.
Jean-Pierre Corniou, CIO of Renault and president of French IT director forum Cigref, told delegates: "Very often the CIO is not the leader in the sourcing strategy. In many cases the decision is made by the chief executive because IT is not viewed as being at the core of the business.
"We have to change that. You know you've won when no one can say where the business ends and the IT starts."
The challenge facing CIOs, Corniou added, is balancing cost reduction against value creation.
"We have to invest wisely in new projects and systems, and we have to use the same metrics as the business, in particular the chief finance officer. We have to make it clear that IT is adding value," he said.
And Thomas Endres, head of group IT at Deutsche Lufthansa, said: "It doesn't matter if initiatives start on the technology or the business side as long as they are intelligently connected. That's key to success.
"But doing what you've always done while explaining to people that you're doing a brilliant job is not enough to raise the profile of IT."
John Handby, chief executive of CIO Connect, a forum of IT directors from 175 UK-based companies including Diageo, Unilever and AstraZeneca, pointed out that getting the service right is also vital.
"To win you have to work reliably. It's no good talking to your chief executive about some great new technology if your email system is still going down every half an hour," he said.
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