Rating the Boss

Many’s the CIO who has endured the complaints of a CEO claiming that IT executives either don’t understand broad business issues or aren’t team players. Recently IT executives fired back by way of a small but loud written survey conducted by New York City-based IT recruiter John J. Davis and Associates Inc.

Sure, most of the 80 responding CIOs gave their respective CEOs passing grades on most questions. Sixty-one per cent, for example, said their CEOs are very supportive of the IT function, and 68 per cent said their CEOs are willing to devote the necessary resources to IT. Seventy-six per cent said their CEO has at least a satisfactory understanding of IT’s role, and 71 per cent said their CEO is capable of making an informed assessment of their performance.

But more than half (52 per cent) also reported that their CEO hinders their performance in some way. And the respondents weren’t bashful about explaining (anonymously, of course) how their bosses make a hurdle of themselves.

“He sees technology as a silver bullet,” wrote one. “He doesn’t understand the need for business process change that often accompanies a technical solution.”

“[My CEO] does not have the time or interest [in information technology],” wrote another. “He still considers IT [a] stepchild [to the business].”

The rest of the write-in clarifications to the “how hinders?” question fit into one or another of six general themes – the CEO doesn’t understand the role IT plays in business strategy; doesn’t involve himself in IT issues; doesn’t understand the IT function; makes unrealistic demands on the CIO; doesn’t allocate sufficient funds to IT; or doesn’t back up the CIO when dealing with other functional heads.

Equally indicative of a sense of frustration was the response rate to the survey. Davis sent out 200 questionnaires and received back an unheard-of 40 per cent. For more on the survey, call John Davis at (212) 286-9489.