A CIO at the Table

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Most radiology practices have not invited their CIOs onto the executive committee, but a recent surve1 from the Center for CIO Leadership suggests that it may be time to set another place at the table. A practice benefits not only from hiring a well-qualified CIO, but also from empowering that person to be a member of the core executive committee charged with analyzing, automating, innovating, and growing the business.

“How does a CIO have influence over the business? I used to think it was about being asked, or where I reported . . . influence is more about building relationships—having the right conversations, at the right times, with the right people, and grounding those conversations in the realities of the business.”
—Fortune 500 CIO

Overall, the survey, which includes the input of 175 CIOs representing a cross section of industries, indicates that CIOs have made significant progress in the past year in the eyes of senior management, which increasingly recognizes the transformative power of IT and the contributions of the CIO.

Conducted by the IBM Center for CIO Leadership in collaboration with Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan School of Management Center for Information Systems Research, the survey’s questions probe into the strategic, operational, and creative domains of the corporate universe; in the process, they reveal the core competencies of the most effective CIOs, as well as their primary objectives and perceived shortcomings.

The CIOs who do participate in high-level strategic decision making demonstrate higher levels of IT-enabled business-model innovation; IT-enabled product/service innovation; and shared, centralized infrastructure and services. Those same CIOS also are more likely to have IT employees with the knowledge and skills to communicate effectively in business terms, with systematic collaboration between IT and business managers.

Partnering With Business Lines

While the influence of the CIO clearly has risen with the growing importance of IT, a majority of CIOs report that they struggle to propose and lead tangible transformation initiatives at the business level. Fully 53% say that promoting collaboration between IT and lines of business is their highest priority. Two other objectives are identified as priorities:

  • bringing performance improvement outside the organization to external partnering and market expansion, and
  • countering the shortage of qualified IT workers by developing high-potential IT staff.

The report’s authors highlight the role of external collaboration in business improvement, citing a report that identified business partners and customers as among the top three sources for innovative ideas, far ahead of internal research and development. Only 10% of respondents, however, believe that they are applying IT to this effort to a great extent. Responding CIOs also give themselves room for improvement in the area of using IT to accelerate an organization’s capacity to innovate by launching new products and services and enabling internal collaboration.

CIOs report high use of IT to create competitive advantages for their companies, particularly in improving process efficiency and enhancing the quality of internal information and customer experience.

imageFigure. CIOs rate leaders in their industry on using IT to create competitive advantage. Reprinted with permission, IBM Corp.

Core Competencies

The survey also successfully identifies a list of activities essential to CIOs who want to achieve strategic positions in their organizations, as well as a list of core competencies necessary to get there.

CIOs who report playing strategic roles in their organizations are better at the following activities:

  • fostering collaboration between IT and lines of business,
  • selling senior management on the importance of IT,
  • playing a role in strategic planning and growth initiatives, and
  • improving internal and external user experience and satisfaction.

The list of core competencies for strategic CIOs is devoid of technical expertise and strong on interpersonal and collaborative skills: political savvy; influence, leadership and power; relationship management; resourcefulness; strategic planning; doing what it takes; and leading employees.

Nowhere in medicine is the transformative power of IT more evident than here in radiology. Practices that hire skilled CIOs and empower them to participate in strategic planning and growth initiatives gain clear and profound