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Claudia Imhoff

Welcome to my blog.

This is another means for me to communicate, educate and participate within the Business Intelligence industry. It is a perfect forum for airing opinions, thoughts, vendor and client updates, problems and questions. To maximize the blog's value, it must be a participative venue. This means I will look forward to hearing from you often, since your input is vital to the blog's success. All I ask is that you treat me, the blog, and everyone who uses it with respect.

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About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants (www.BBBT.us). You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

Editor's Note:
More articles and resources are available in Claudia's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

With the emphasis on IT's critical role in compliance monitoring and reporting, as well as in supporting such initiatives as CRM and Business Performance Monitoring (BPM), perhaps it is finally time to recognize that the CIO must report directly to the CEO - not the CFO as is traditional. The importance of this direct reporting role cannot be stressed enough but, unfortunately, many CIOs have still not made that case in their organizations. A recent article in ComputerWorld lists 8 reasons why a CIO should report to the CEO. Here are some of these reasons.

1. Most companies claim that their IT systems are what differentiate them from their competitors. Since the CEO is the chief strategist (at least, he or she should be), then that person should directly oversee and instruct the individual responsible for aligning the technologies behind that strategy.
2. IT is thought to be an enterprise resource. If anyone, other than the CEO, is in charge of the CIO, then it can be assumed that the technological agenda will be biased or influenced by the goals and objectives of that particular executive. For example, if the CIO reports to the CFO, it’s a sure bet that financial systems will get more attention than, say, marketing or HR ones. It is mandatory that IT develop business applications that are critical to the overall well-being of the enterprise, not those favored by one senior executive.
3. Since most strategic IT implementations like CRM, BI and BPM take long periods of time before their full benefits can be felt, it is necessary that the CIO have an orientation toward the future. He or she must maintain a long-term vision of these future benefits and this can only come from the CEO.
4. Then there are the rising costs of IT. Without direct access to the CEO, the CIO is in a weak position to defend the needed budgetary funding. Without direct input from the CIO, the CEO won’t understand that IT is an investment, not just a cost center to be mitigated.
5. We have long preached that BI and other sweeping initiatives like data quality, compliance, CRM, etc., should be enterprise initiatives. Unless IT is recognized as the strategic driver behind the enterprise, it will be very difficult to get input from all parts of the enterprise in terms of IT’s priorities. If IT reports directly to the CEO, then this becomes very clear to other C-level executives.
6. The IT landscape is littered with failed projects, missed expectations, deadlines, and budgets, and critical shortages in personnel and resources. This is exacerbated by the constant turnover of CIO’s (according to the article, the average CIO tenure is 18 to 36 months). Unless the CIO has the ear of the CEO, he or she will always be a convenient scapegoat when things go badly for IT.

So, given these reasons for the CIO to report directly to the CEO, why are we seeing a rise in CIOs reporting to CFOs? I suppose we could come up with just as many reasons for this trend but it seems to me that the biggest impediment to the CIO becoming one of the CEO’s “inner circle” stems from the CIO’s inability to speak in terms that the business understands. CIOs must stop the technobabble they are so fond of and become business-oriented. Then the CEO will enjoy me


Posted June 21, 2005 7:20 PM
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