'CEOs Should View The CIO Role As Complementary'

In an exclusive interview with Biztech2.0, Jana Matthews, CEO, The Jana Matthews Group, speaks about the essential management skills for CIOs, the art of persuasion and IT from a CEO’s viewpoint.

Which are the management skills essential for CIOs?

CIOs in particular need to move beyond technology into information about how they can drive business decisions on the basis of the data compiled. They need to develop management and leadership skills to understand how to choose people, which people to promote, how to conduct performance reviews, how to understand people who don’t think from a technology perspective and aren’t data driven. Motivating team members and working in co-ordination with them and the employees of other departments is also important.

Communication with team members should be done selectively, considering some people hear it out better while others understand the written format better; some people believe only when the communication is done in front of everybody while some others take private communication seriously. There are many nuances to the process.

What is the importance of the 'Art of Persuasion'?

The content of the communication is also important apart from selecting specific communication channels. So if the CIO believes that a particular technology application is important then he should be able to convince the rest as to why it is important and thus, an important part of the CIO’s role is selling the idea to the CXO suite and other concerned employees. The CIO should convince them about the reasons to adopt the application and how does it fit into the company’s strategy. Subsequently, people should be trained on the application to be adopted, about the development needs, the systemic changes after the adoption etc. Experts should be called in to train employees on the software.

Sometimes it also happens that the idea gets rejected without proper understanding from the concerned person. There is no reason to be dejected because it may be that it is not the right time to suggest the idea. The CIO must understand that rejection does not mean that he backs off; it simply means that he should come out in another way after a couple of months. In case there are repeated disapprovals due to prejudice, the CIO should pick somebody else from the C suite, may be the marketing or sales executive to put forward the idea.

Apart from the communication needs and the importance of appropriate content in the communication, the CIO should also look at it from a profitability perspective i.e. how would the application add to the company’s revenue.

How do CEOs view IT?

The CEOs that I have met in various countries are focussed on selling, products, markets and customers. They have limited knowledge about IT and are quite hesitant to have an IT head given the fact that the person will have access to similar information as that provided to a CEO. He should understand the importance of the CIO in terms of managing information and also as a person, who will have access to the same information as the CEO does. The CEO should avoid claiming an exclusive right to all information and designate somebody to handle the IT systems for managing information and for taking prompt decisions. This pattern gets repeated in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Czechoslovakia, UK etc.

Updated Date: Jan 31, 2017 02:16:38 IST