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Earning the Respect of the CEO

Robert Regis Hyle | January 19, 2015

When ITA LIVE takes place in April, what promises to be one of the more interesting sessions will focus on the relationship between CIOs and their bosses, the CEOs. This is also the focus for an article in the February issue of ITA Pro magazine.

The good news is that those we’ve spoken with on the subject firmly believe the relationship has evolved to greater heights for technology leaders in the last decade and will grow even more as technology continues to control the way we live and work.

The opportunity is there for CIOs to spread their wings in the executive suite. That may scare some CIOs, who subscribe to the role of order taker in charge of keeping the lights on. But fewer CEOs want that from their CIOs today. They want someone who can be strategic and help lead the enterprise rather than to follow along with heads nodding in agreement.

The CIO has to “connect the dots,” according to Frank Petersmark, CIO Advocate for X by 2.

“It's not enough anymore for CIOs to be at the board table,” he says. “Rather than just saying it is tough to keep old systems running you have this to explain the implications for business people and IT. It sounds mundane, but some CIOs miss on that. They miss on rationally and pragmatically taking people through and showing them the results of their actions.”

That means CIOs have to understand more than the technology tools. They have to understand what the business units do and what technology can do to improve those operations. Bob Otis, president and CEO of National Lloyds Corporation, expects nothing less from his technology leaders.

“I have to think about all those things when I think about strategy or I won't know where to go,” he says. “You won't have a complete strategy without IT. There's no doubt some IT folks I've brought to the table would prefer to be a simple service organization and would prefer—maybe not so much today—that I simply told them what we want them to do. That's not a helpful approach and IT gets a lot of grief for that. That's how they get left out in the first place. I don't want them in the room if they are not offering solutions.”

We talk a lot about solution providers in terms of software vendors, but the real solution providers for insurance carriers in the second decade of the 21st Century are the technology people themselves. It is their job to make technology and business run smoothly and one thing we know for certain: The world never goes back to the way it used to be; it only goes forward.  



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