Why more CIOs are going for COO post

As companies become increasingly reliant on technology to support its operations, many chief information officers (CIOs) are feeling straightjacketed by their position and are clamouring for greater influence in the operation side of the business, according to a recent survey.

There are now a growing number of IT professionals working in blended CIO/chief operating officer positions (COO), according to the 2013 IT Trends Survey by the Society for Information Management.

The study, which covered some 650 senior IT leaders, also found that 44 per cent of CIOs are now reporting directly to the company chief executive officer, up from previous years. The survey also found that 14.4 per cent of CIOs are now answering to the COO and 27.1 per cent are under the jurisdiction of the chief financial officer, showing a decline for figures from past years.

In recent years, business operations and IT operations in the enterprise have come together to a point where “you can’t have one without the other,” says Cory Chaplin, director of technology solutions for management and technology consulting firm West Monroe Partners.

He says in many cases, the overlap of CIO and COO roles makes sense.

IT was traditional a support functions tasked to make sure the computers and phones were working, but today the departments is in charge of a much larger realm that encompasses things such as e-commerce and mobility which in many cases comprise the business of an organization.

A closer CIO/COO connection is ideal in at least two scenarios, according to Tim Stanley, former CIO and COO and current president of executive advisory firm Tekexecs:

Companies with a strategic mandate to create operational efficiencies

Organizations divesting assets as a result of a merger of acquisition in order to gain tighter alignment of the CIO and COO roles

The COO often responsible for pulling “stuff across areas” while the CIO is an “enabler of getting stuff done,” he said.

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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