CIO-Connect: the top exec forum

Many of the most senior IT directors belong to CIO-Connect. It aims to help them share ideas and experiences in a variety of...

Set up several years ago by a group of former IT directors, the organisation now has 160 or so members from the largest organisations. For their annual fee of £12,000 they get a range of services, and entry into what John Handby, CIO-Connect's chief executive, and a former IT director of the Post Office, Glaxo and National Power, describes as "the forum for top IT executives in the UK". The organisation has a range of structured events, including evening meetings for IT directors' personal assistants, to give them a clearer understanding of what CIO-Connect does for their bosses. It also runs a comprehensive closed web-based news service for senior IT management, a series of workshops, and through a sister organisation, the Information Group, enables members to take part in high-level focus groups. CIO-Connect has recently expanded its operations to set up vertical sector user sub-groups, for the insurance and for the pharmaceuticals sectors and is currently looking at another two sectors. This April another, related group, called IT-Connect, was spawned by CIO-Connect. It is aimed at less senior staff, who have a separate range of activities, but who can attend certain CIO-Connect briefings. Key themes currently addressed in a range of CIO-Connect activities are leadership and governance. "Our approach is no longer to think of IT as separate from the business, but as another facet of the business, with chief information officers working with their peers in other divisions to deliver business benefits," said Handby. "Increasingly our membership is taking on a wider responsibility than IT, and is driving broader process projects." Handby sees a clear distinction between CIO-Connect and other core user groups. He perceives the Impact Programme as concentrating on the personal development of IT directors and therefore complementary and he sees the Corporate IT Forum (Tif) as aimed at a different level of corporate user. The National Computing Centre, according to Handby, traditionally works with IT professionals from the levels below Tif's remit, although he sees the centre aiming higher following its recent acquisition of the user group Certus. Many of the most senior IT directors belong to CIO-Connect. It aims to help them share ideas and experiences in a variety of different ways, but primarily through peer-to-peer relationships.

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