Enterprising Developments

How Well Do Senior Executives Really Understand IT?

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, August 31, 2012

In my ongoing discussions with insurance industry CIOs over the years, one of the things that always impressed me is when a CIO has an active voice in the running of the company. Be it a seat on the executive committee, or simply having the CEO's ear on important business directions, the ability to fully exploit information technology in designing new products and entering new markets can certainly put a company in a leadership position.

However, IT people simply aren't being heard enough in today's executive suites, a new survey sponsored by CA Technologies reveals. The survey of CIOs – from a range of industries – says there is a widespread lack of “digital literacy” among senior executives that it is hampering growth, efficiency and competitiveness. “Eighty percent of CIOs surveyed are concerned that their top-level management team is not fully digitally literate, to the detriment of the business,” the study's authors report. Survey respondents “argue that the sorts of problems senior-level digital illiteracy can cause for the business include responding slowly to market changes, missed business and investment opportunities, poor competitiveness, slower time to market and IT investments that are underachieving.”

According to the survey, a quarter of CIOs said their senior executives did not understand the impact of new and emerging technologies, and 37 percent of CIOs said their executives believe their business does not use IT to grow the business to the extent that it should. Almost a third said the senior management team sees IT “as a cost of doing business,” rather than viewing it as a means through which to grow the organization, make processes more efficient and introduce greater agility and competitiveness.

The report makes several recommendations for enhancing senior management's comfort and awareness of what IT can deliver:

Communicate: CIOs and IT managers are challenged to effectively communicate the business value of IT. Initiate business-level conversations “about the value of technology implementations and innovations, and also provide a range of technologies” to boost executive productivity. 

Think strategically: Ultimately, the report states, IT leaders who will be the most effective for their organization “will be the ones who identify strategic business thinking from an IT perspective, are proactive in presenting solutions, and communicate their business value in language that other C-level executives and the board understands.”

Position IT as a services broker: “As IT systems increasingly become cloud-centric, CIOs are positioned to be important brokers of IT services—orchestrating them across the organization and working more closely with line of business managers to realize the value of their digital strategies.”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (2)

Some people do not understand a single worldrelated to IT industry as Luis mentioned, but even worse case scenario when CEO do not get the importance of this industry. I would even say that there is 100 per cent no progress without proper IT . Those who take advantage of IT is ging to have a bright future for sure.
Alicia from http://ameriloansearch.com/

Posted by: Mrs. Sanders | October 8, 2012 7:00 AM

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Very nice article and useful for CIO's awareness, if we see, in Latin America we can find a lot of CEO's that do not understand a single word of IT related content, so they prefer to rely on the confidence on "having a CIO to keep things running" but with this attitude they just don't realize that are letting opportunities pass by the doors of their companies. At the othe side, our CIO have to become in more social skilled and business readers too, it's all about closing communication gaps and showing with BC's or just competitor examples how (in common words) IT can crwate a more rapid and efficient business.

Posted by: Luis Ramos | September 3, 2012 10:03 AM

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