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Issue of June 2004 

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The changing role of the CIO

The CIO is now considered a part of the executive management team, and the role of the CIO designate is fast evolving.

In the new role CIOs need to focus on management soft-skills like leadership, communication and strategic planning at the executive level.

CIOs now have the all-important task of evolving strategies that would drive the business.

With the rapid pace of technology advancement, the CIO must continually refresh his knowledge and fine-tune skills in order to remain effective.

75 percent of CIOs stress the importance of understanding of business processes and operations as an integral part of the CIO skill set.

By Sandeep Ajgaonkar

Much has been written about Information Technology as an agent of change in the 21st century corporation. While few doubt that IT has proved beneficial, fundamental questions remain when it comes to understanding the functioning of an IT department. Who is involved in decision-making regarding IT purchases? Is IT in corporate India aligned with business objectives? Is the CEO involved in IT decisions and what's his perception of a CIO's role?

Infrastructure Strategies 2004 (IS 2004) aims to answer these provoking questions.

Focus on Strategy

Infrastructure Strategies started of as a survey to quantify the IT spends by corporate India across various

technologies and industry verticals. Conducted by the eTechnology Group of IMRB on behalf of Network Magazine, this year the survey goes beyond its initial focus of analyzing IT spends by probing the management and strategy issues faced by IT heads.

From a CIO's perspective, the survey aims to address the following:

  • What are the likely IT spends across various technologies and industry verticals?
  • Do CIOs perceive IT to be aligned with business objective?
  • Is it solely the prerogative of the CIO to make IT related decisions or do others, notably the CFO and CEO take part in this process?
  • l Explore the transformation of the CIO from a pure technologist to a business strategist.

With IS 2004 we have gone to B-class cities for the first time to identify the spending patterns in these emerging markets for IT. As large corporations begin to shift their IT budgets into second gear, SMEs and SMBs—especially those located in B-class cities—have taken up the slack.

As in the past, CIOs were interviewed for IS 2004. That wasn't all though; this time we tapped Business Heads (CEOs, CFOs) and assessed their expectations from their organizations' IT set-up. The CEO survey was designed to:

  • Analyze whether CEOs consider IT as a core aspect of their corporate growth or if it was just a business enabler.
  • Get their views on IT and business alignment.
  • Explore the role played by CEOs in IT decision making.

A phased approach

The survey was carried out for three months (March to May 2004) and it was conducted in 2 phases.

Phase I: Phase I involved personal interviews with over 300 IT Decisions Makers from top companies. For all practical purposes, the main survey with over 250 CIOs was conducted across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkatta, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. A smaller sample of 50 CIOs was interviewed in Aurangabad, Chandigarh, Cochin, Indore and Nasik to analyze the spending patterns in B-class cities.

Phase II: Phase II involved one-on-one meetings with 50 Business Heads (CEO, CFO) across Mumbai and Delhi (since most Business Heads are placed in these two cities, the business and political hubs of India) to get their perspective on IT's role in their organizations.

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