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CIOs are the Rosetta Stone for Insurers

Rob McIsaac | January 06, 2015

The relationship between CIOs and CEOs is critical for both success and longevity. Failing to cultivate these connections can lead to early and unexpected "made available to the industry" moments. The dynamic of these connections is complex and varied, dominated by no single thing, but there are some keys for CIOs to consider.

The whole relationship is built on a foundation that presumes commitment to promises made. Failing to deliver will lead to near term career course adjustment plans, irrespective of all other items.  If delivery is a foregone conclusion, what can CIOs do to improve this relationship?  Communicate effectively.

Technology is a tough place to operate. It is complex, expensive, inaccessible and confusing to the uninitiated. It has its own lingo which can be impenetrable. At a time when consumer technology seems concurrently more fantastic and easier to use, arcane discussions of technical nuance and complexity are quick ways to shut off even sympathetic ears. Don't do it.

CIOs need to learn the language of the business they are in and that they support. They need to be the Rosetta Stone that translates technical issues into layman’s terms allowing CEOs to understand business imperatives, opportunities and risk mitigation solutions. The ability to break information down in a way that can be easily digested will allow the CIO to become a trusted advisor. When this is done consistently well, CIOs can be invited into the inner world of strategic planning and forward execution.

Failing at that, they risk becoming the internal embodiment of The Cable Guy. Expensive, confusing and replaceable. Avoid the temptation of using the IT equivalent of an ugly American strategy. If people didn't understand you the first time, don't try and say it again only louder and with bigger words.  The right message, at the right time, in the right context is critical to winning over the CEO.

(Rob McIsaac is senior vice president of research and consulting for Novarica.)

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