There’s long been talk in IT management circles about getting a seat at the table when corporate strategy discussions are happening. The thinking goes that technology is such a central function to most modern companies, that IT should have input into strategic decisions, and help guide their implementation almost as a birthright. However, for many there is a cart before the horse problem at work here. CIOs want a seat at the strategic table, but they don’t demonstrate any strategic value. The CEO wants to talk about entering new markets, and the CIO wants to talk about upgrading Windows or the nuances between the HAL 9000 version 1.98845 versus 1.987234.
There are two prerequisites to getting that “seat at the table”. 1) The utility aspect of IT needs to be flawless, and you need to stop talking about it. When was the last time you called the power company and thanked them for safely splitting atoms so you could turn on your light switch and have it just work? Same goes for the utility element of IT. It’s complex and completely thankless, get over it.
2) The CIO needs to understand the business deeply, and be able to articulate and frame the challenges and opportunities facing the business. He or she then needs to explain in layman’s terms how technology might accelerate these strategic imperatives.
Do these two well, and the CIO will be sought out for his or her opinion. Spend every board meeting looking for accolades because you implemented some fancy disaster recovery plan, or installed a new security package, and you’ll soon be shown the door.