For some information technology professionals, being handed the honorable title of chief information officer may not be the be-all and end-all of promotions. As technology and business become increasingly intertwined, individuals working in IT may be setting their sights at the all-encompassing position of chief operating officer so that they can apply their tech talents to a diverse set of functions. Even though applying their expertise to a wide range tasks throughout their operations as a whole may be a tempting proposition, IT experts should carefully contemplate whether their companies would best benefit from them assuming this new role of COO or sticking with the traditional track leading up to CIO.
Evolving CIO position encompasses more responsibilities
In a number of cases, professionals in this field may be averse to pursuing the CIO role, feeling that it somehow confines their IT talent to a limited list of tasks to complete. Instead of being able to offer insight into how technology could help to refine various aspects of their companies’ operations, they may feel as if they were separated from the rest of their organizations and only allowed to handle decisions strictly within their IT departments alone. This is not necessarily desirable because tech executives may want to contribute to the bigger business picture, not just to a sliver reserved for IT staff.
Take, for example, Cynthia Hamburger, a seasoned IT professional who shot down a CIO job offer with Learning Ally because she thought that the role was too narrowly focused. Computerworld explained that this expert held off until the company combined the previously presented position with that of the COO.
“When I was first offered the position as CIO, I had no interest,” stated Hamburger, according to the news source. “When they started to add in the operational side … it became much more interesting. This was a 65-year-old company in need of a technical reinvention. I had to have [responsibility] for enough of the business that I could control my destiny and really start the transformation process.”
A share of individuals may not see the difference that adding this extra component to the existing CIO job description would make. However, the easy way to think about this employment modification is that it awards tech executives more power and authority throughout the company as a whole, not just the IT department. Rather than having to report to various levels of middlemen when voicing their opinions or bringing up concerns, CIO/COO hybrids would be able to speak with CEOs and CFOs directly. This reorganization of ranks may be a part of a growing tech trend, as companies break down barriers between IT departments and other divisions throughout their organizations, blending duties so that they are able to collaborate as a united force.
“IT and business operations have converged in the enterprise to the point where you can’t have one without the other,” said Cory Chaplin, director of technology solutions at West Monroe Partners, as cited by Computerworld. “It used to be that IT was a support function, making sure people had phones and computers. Now IT is in charge of everything from e-commerce applications to mobility. Since those things are the business … it makes sense to have more overlapping roles.”
Businesses restructure and make CIOs top prospects
Normally, when workers hear the word “restructuring,” they may become a little uneasy because that could mean that lay-offs are soon to come. Fortunately for IT professionals, though, companies are actually looking for professionals with their kind of expertise to take the reins and step into these newly created roles. As corporations skim through stacks of resumes, they may find that the best candidates for their blended COO jobs would be CIOs.
ComputerworldUK reported that Danske Bank recently named former Barclays CIO Jim Ditmore as its COO. This financial organization decided that Ditmore’s IT expertise is exactly what the company needs to bring all branches of the business to the cutting edge of innovation.
“In the years to come, we must strengthen Danske Bank’s position as the bank with the most innovative and customer-friendly digital solutions for both personal and business customers,” explained the corporation’s CEO Thomas Borgen. “We must also be more flexible and efficient to ensure that we can quickly adapt to the changing market and can meet customers’ expectations of fast and flexible services.”
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