Communication is critical for today’s CIO

31 Oct

Communication is the buzzword in current discussions around the role of the CIO. In the past being a good database developer or software engineer may well have qualified someone to be a competent CIO. Nowadays that just simply isn’t enough. As andrewfitz22 points out – via Geoffrey Moore – the modern CIO must be both pragmatic and a visionary. In fact Joe Peppard (2010) states that a key function of a CIO is to be a good relationship builder – “expressing empathy, listening, and being passionate”. These are competencies we would associate more with a doctor or psychologist rather than a CIO! Yet at the core of all these competencies lies an important requirement for a CIO – not to be IT preoccupied – but to be a good communicator.

As such the communicative requirement is split in two between being able to relate to business management on company issues and his/her own team on a technical level. The CIO must be flexible enough to have a different approach to suit two separate audiences. This is crucial for the sake of business continuity. The challenge for the CIO when it comes to communication is articulating complex technical matters to an audience that lacks knowledge in this area. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry CIOs are now expected to drive development within a company and take on a leadership role. However leadership is underpinned by communication and these days it appears companies want a leader in this role first and foremost.  This assumption in itself creates another interesting debate. Is today’s CIO a manager first or an IT specialist? Is IT specialism now a secondary requirement for prospective CIOs? In my opinion it appears – that if IT specialism isn’t a secondary function now – it certainly will be in the future.


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