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The CIO's best business transformation teacher? Another CIO

As CIOs struggle to innovate around business transformation, they are finding that other CIOs are the best friend they can have.

We have written much in the past two years about how the CIO must make friends throughout the enterprise — with the CFO, the CEO, the chief marketing officer and even the facilities manager.

Yet despite their real efforts on taking the lead on business transformation and innovation, CIOs today still won’t find their best friend inside the corporation. That’s because the CIO’s real BFF is another CIO.

After enjoying our third SearchCIO 360 dinner this week in New York, I am convinced that CIOs will always learn more and become more effective in their own jobs — not to mention with business transformation — by listening to the experiences of their peers. Only in this way will they start to feel that they aren’t alone against the sea of troubles IT presents on a daily basis.

Need more evidence? None other than the CIO of IBM, Jeanette Horan, who oversees hundreds of thousands of users and millions of database reports a day, and says she needs the comfort of peer networking to help understand things — and to help others understand.

“People are very interested to hear how we eat our own cooking,” she said during a recent interview. “And the other thing is IBM’s business results; we have to say we’ve been doing very well over the past few years, and so there are a lot of people who want to know, how did you do that? And obviously, the whole kind of role that the CIO organization plays has been instrumental in helping that with respect to the productivity gains to the business.”

“CIOs like networking,” she said. “The topics I most often get questions on are BYOD, governance — not “IT,” as in how do you manage your data center, but governance, as in how do you stay aligned with your business. And the other topics that are hot right now are analytics and cloud. The reason is, they are new, and everybody is trying to figure out what’s the real use case and what’s the real value proposition; and they [CIOs] are really hungry for examples — that’s what they want.”

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