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Are CIOs losing their mojo?

Are CIOs losing their mojo?

A recent SIM International study finds that fewer CIOs are reporting directly to the CEO. Instead, they're answering to less strategic executives, such as the chief operating officer or chief financial officer

The evolving CIO

Others say the recent focus on handling regulatory requirements can also be used to increase the CIO's role and influence well beyond IT.

"In the next three to five years, I see an evolving CIO that's being asked to solve business problems that in many cases have nothing to do with IT," says Stephen Pickett, CIO at Penske and a past president of SIM.

For example, a CIO might be tapped to create an engineering release process for the organization's engineering department. "What steps should an engineer follow to properly release a component into production? That's a skill the CIO has because he's had to do that on the technology side. Dealing with regulatory issues like Sarbanes-Oxley has been a great teacher in helping us meet that requirement to be perfect and have a high level of accuracy -- and that's something that can be extended to the business overall."

The important thing, experts say, is not the org chart but the CIO's ability to play a strategic role in the business. "Irregardless of the reporting relationship, do they sit on the executive committee, do they have interactions if it's a public company with the board, or at the highest level of whatever their organization might be?" says Robert Keefe, SIM president and senior vice president and CIO at Mueller Water Products. "And when I speak with my colleagues, the answer continues to come back as yes. They continue to see exposure and reliance at the highest levels of the organization."

And that's a good thing, especially with today's rapidly changing technology. "You can't run a company without a strong CIO anymore," Pickett says. "If you do, you're definitely running it with more risk than you should be."

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