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Gartner: How to wow your CEO

Talking to the CEO? Stop reporting IT metrics and start improving bottom lines. Get more Gartner tips here.

The new CIO agenda calls for CIOs to concentrate on getting the right information to decision makers, focus on business processes, and keep security as a top priority, according to a new Gartner Inc. report.

"The 2005 CIO Agenda" is based on surveys and interviews with more than 1,300 CIOs. Since Gartner began producing its annual CIO report in 1998, CIO priorities have changed altogether, said Mark McDonald, Gartner group vice president and analyst. Today's successful CIOs are skilled at showing CEOs how IT projects change business processes, such as cycle times for ordering and shipping, McDonald said.

"We have one client who cut their order-to-ship time from 13 from three days," McDonald said. "The cost goes down and the customer service improves." That company's CIO, McDonald said, could point to results that any CEO would understand, and appreciate. And it was simple, he said. "First, they deleted old code. And they changed the frequency of batch. Those two changes pulled 10 days out of the cycle."

McDonald presented the results of the annual report at this week's Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo 2005 in Orlando, Fla. McDonald said he tried to drive home two key points to CIOs in attendance: Start communicating the business benefits of IT -- and stop reporting IT performance metrics -- to CEOs.

"If you are reporting uptime to your CEOs, then something is wrong," McDonald said. "When you give a CIO a piece of information, they use it one of two ways. Either they use it to make a decision -- or you are giving them an alert. So it's no surprise that when I report uptime, they slide into that second mode.

McDonald said business intelligence and security were the areas in which CIOs reported the most spending in 2005. Because IT has extended to the front office, CIOs must be concerned with security and risk throughout the company, he said.

Gartner outlined six priorities for CIOs:

  • Keep tight control over IS.
  • Create a stable core of IT services.
  • Manage the CEO-CIO relationship.
  • Pay attention to security and risk.
  • Build a business process capability.
  • Get the right information to decision makers.

"For every project, you want to talk about how that business will be better once that project is over," McDonald said. "It's a really simple thing to do, and that's what's really cool about it."

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