IT directors are the poor relations of the boardroom, says Gartner

IT directors are the poor relations of the boardroom when it comes to influencing company strategy, and they have a negative...

IT directors are the poor relations of the boardroom when it comes to influencing company strategy, and they have a negative image to overcome within the business, according to research from Gartner.

IT directors also disagree with chief executives about what the top priorities for their business should be and typically adopt a conflicting management style, the study found.

The findings are based on separate international surveys conducted over the past year in which hundreds of chief information officers and directors were asked about their business priorities and management style. IT recruitment agencies and psychologists were also questioned.

"Relatively few CIOs are seen as true business leaders," said Gartner research director Dave Aron. "There is a divide in the expectation of what the role of a CIO can be."

When directors from different departments were ranked by their influence on business strategy, IT directors came seventh out of eight, added Aron.

The Gartner research identified three main reasons for the often strained relationship between IT directors and chief executives.

First, chief executives do not see IT as a top priority. Second, IT directors and chief executives disagree about the main concerns for their business (chief executives said issues affecting revenue and growth were most important; IT directors cited security, cost and privacy).

Third, chief executives and IT directors have a different approach to management - IT directors tend to be more cautious and focus on details and the practicality of possible projects while chief executives prefer to deal with ideas and their impact on the whole business.

In order to gain more influence, Gartner advised IT direc- tors to obtain business qualifications, such as MBAs, or industry-specific accreditation, such as the certified financial analyst qualification in the securities industry.

IT directors should also allocate time to spend with senior colleagues outside the IT department and ensure they have a good deputy to handle everyday queries, Gartner said.

The top 10 business priorities 

Chief information officers

  • Security breaches/business disruptions
  • Operating costs/budgets
  • Data protection and privacy
  • Need for revenue growth
  • Use of information in products
  • Economic recovery
  • Faster innovation
  • Single view of the customer
  • Transparency in reporting
  • Risk management.

Chief executives

  • Customers
  • Improving productivity
  • Cutting costs
  • Market share
  • Responsive organisation
  • Technology
  • Strategy
  • Core competencies
  • Innovation
  • Employees

Source: Gartner

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