Skip to content

Top Three Internal Allies Every CIO Should Have (ghostwritten blog post)

Top Three Internal Allies Every CIO Should Have


The role of today’s CIO is quickly evolving, and one of the best moves any CIO can make to aid in the transformation of his or her role is to forge a team of close-knit allies with colleagues whose roles are now inextricably linked to their own. Specifically, the Chief Marketing Officer, the Chief Information Security Officer, and the Chief Operating Officer. As every business becomes a tech-enabled business, the payoff to building these relationships is huge. CIOs that are true partners not only possess Board visibility, but they are also on their way to occupying the CEO office.

Some industry news and reports have tried to pit CIOs against these valuable positions, but I don’t believe that is in anyone’s best interest. Relationships should be fostered, not suppressed. So CIOs, my mission to you, should you choose to accept it (and you should), is to extend a symbolic olive-branch and start nurturing these new internal allies.

Ally #1 – The CMO

In 2012, Gartner predicted that by 2017 CMOs would spend more on IT than CIOs. I know of several companies where the numbers are trending in that direction, but a solid relationship between marketing and IT is vital.

For starters, playing nice with the CMO can help keep IT running smoothly. Today’s a great day to stop by the CMOs office with a cup of coffee and find out what’s on their IT wish-list, and then figure out a way to make at least some of the wish-list a reality. If not, a scrappy CMO, hard-pressed for delivering immediate and measurable results, may turn to the marketing technologist down the hall to patch together a solution that will be in the hands of the sales force tomorrow, rendering IT inert.

The CMO-CIO relationship should be reciprocal. Tom Kaneshige of points out the value CIOs bring to CMOs looking to hop into the CEO seat. With the pendulum swinging toward digital and social media spends, CMOs need to measure the vast majority of their initiatives now more than ever. As a direct result, valuable data, and the CIOs ability to unlock vast siloed arrays of it, is the key to the CMOs heart (and possibly their ascension to Chief Executive).

Ally #2 – The CISO

The unprecedented security breaches of TargetSonyJPMorgan, Citigroup, E*Trade, HSBC, ADPHome Depot, and others may usher in the direct reporting structure of CISO to CEO, but the CIO-CISO relationship must be maintained in order to show your corporate board that cybersecurity issues and revenue-generating initiatives can work in tandem.

Clint Boulton of The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal recently touched on the need for a strong relationship between the CIO and CISO and highlighted companies with a variety of org structures that encourage this symbiosis.

On a daily basis, CIOs deal with exposing more and more critical information as executives, salespeople, corporate trainers and marketers demand mobile access to everything from sales and marketing materials to confidential strategic planning and product launch information. A trusted CIO-CISO partnership should result in both stronger security AND on-demand information access for your organization.  The result?  Everyone feels a little more secure.

Ally #3 – The COO

As reported by the WSJ, Starbucks recently announced that its new president and COO Kevin Johnson will oversee supply chain, IT, and mobile and digital platforms, in addition to his global operating roles. Johnson, the former CEO of Juniper Networks and former president of platforms at Microsoft, is another example of a technology mastermind in the C-Suite. Last year promoted Phil Potloff from CIO to COO after he oversaw the development of a critical internal tool. This trend shines the light on the fact that strategic initiatives require the mind of a technologist as all companies become tech-enabled businesses. A CIO that is able to partner with the COO to provide technical support to critical strategic initiatives will become a key driver of strategy for the organization… and enable even more informed decision making.

The Take-Away

The culmination of technology becoming a business driver and the overlapping of these three roles with the CIO presents a unique opportunity. Strategic CIOs are seen as thought leaders. Increasing your strategic influence on the core business and increasing your board visibility may also potentially put you on a path to becoming CEO. Now the key is building, nurturing, and maintaining these three critical relationships.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: