Chief information officers have the difficult job of running a function that uses a lot of resources but that offers little measurable evidence of its value. To make the information systems department an asset to their companies — and to keep their jobs — CIOs should think of their work as adding value in certain key areas. Accordingly, chief executive officers can take a number of steps to aid a CIO’s efforts. This article, based on studies of information systems leaders in sixty organizations, presents a portrait of successful CIOs and the CEOs who support them.
1. M.C. Lacity and R.A. Hirschheim, “The Information Systems Outsourcing Bandwagon,” Sloan Management Review, Fall 1993, pp. 73–93; and
J. Rothfeder and L. Driscoll, “CIO Is Starting to Stand for Career Is Over,” Business Week, 26 February 1990, pp. 47–48.
2. The authors would like to express their appreciation to KPMG’s IMPACT Group and to Egon Zehnder International for their funding of these research studies.
3. D.F. Feeny, B.R. Edwards, and K.M. Simpson, “Understanding the CEO/CIO Relationship,” MIS Quarterly 16 (1992): 435–448.
4. M.J. Earl, “The Chief Information Officer: A Study of Survival” (London: London Business School, Centre for Research in Information Management, Working Paper No. WP93/3, 1993).
5. The original study:
R.A. Hirschheim, M.J. Earl, D.F. Feeny, and M. Lockett, “An Exploration into the Management of the Information Systems Function: Key Issues and an Evolutionary Model,” Information Technology Management for Productivity and Competitive Advantage, IFIP TC-8 Open Conference, Singapore, March 1988.
The study that revisited the CIOs:
D.F. Feeny, “The Five-Year Learning of Ten IT Directors” (Oxford, England: Oxford Institute of Information Management, Research and Discussion Paper No. RD93/9, 1993).
6. P. Strassman, The Business Value of Computers (New Canaan, Connecticut: The Information Economics Press, 1990); and
M.M. Parker, R.J. Benson, and H.E. Trainor, Information Economics (London: Prentice Hall, 1988).
7. R.I. Benjamin, J.F. Rockart, M.S. Scott Morton, and J. Wyman, “Information Technology: A Strategic Opportunity,” Sloan Management Review, Spring 1984, pp. 3–10; and
F.W. McFarlan, “Information Technology Changes the Way You Compete,” Harvard Business Review, May–June 1984, pp. 98–103.
8. M.J. Earl, “Experiences in Strategic Information Systems Planning,” MIS Quarterly 17 (1993): 1–20.
9. M.J. Earl, Management Strategies for Information Technology (London: Prentice Hall, 1989); and
J.C. Henderson and N. Venkatraman, “Strategic Alignment: A Framework for Strategic Information Technology Management” (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Sloan School of Management, Management in the 1990s Working Paper 89–076, 1989).
10. Feeny et al. (1992).
11. This has also been observed by:
C.S. Stephens, W.N. Ledbetter, A. Mitra, and F.N. Ford, “Executive or Functional Manager? The Nature of the CIO’s Job,” MIS Quarterly 16 (1992): 449–468.
12. R. Hamilton, “Kendall Outsources IS Chief,” Computerworld, 8 April 1989, pp. 1–4.
13. R.M. Belbin, Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail (London: Heinemann, 1981).
14. J.F. Rockart, “The Line Takes the Leadership — IS Management in a Wired Society,” Sloan Management Review, Summer 1988, pp. 57–64.