Are you a “Supply Chain” CIO or a Strategic CIO?

Supply Chain CIO or Strategic CIOOver on the Gartner blog, Michael Moaz asked a great question in a recent post titled “CIOs can be supply specialists or maestros of innovation. Who are you?”   The question is implied within the title of the post but I’ll paraphrase it here for the benefit of discussion.  The paraphrased question is “Are you a Supply Chain CIO or a Strategic CIO“?

When I say “Supply Chain CIO”, I’m not talking about your industry…I’m talking about your approach to the role as technology leader within your organization.  Are you an order taker that does whatever the ‘purchase order’ says? Are you a logistics manager who just pushes orders around the data center?

Or…are you a Strategic CIO who is helping to lead business initiatives within your organization?

As a supply chain CIO, you’re helping the operational side of the business tremendously. You are ensuring that the lights are staying on, the data center is running efficiently and technology is available to help the business. As a supply chain CIO, you and your team are known as the ‘tech team’ and are brought in when something needs to be implemented or ‘fixed’.

There’s no question that the supply chain CIO brings value to the organization. Every company needs someone to drive operational efficiency. Every company needs someone to make sure technology is being managed for optimum performance.  That said, companies don’t need a CIO to focus on the operational side of things. There are plenty of other people within IT who can focus on operations. The CIO needs to be strategic in their thinking and in their actions.

As a strategic CIO, you’re helping the whole business, not just the operational aspects of the business. You’re helping direct the organization’s use of technology to solve the business problems and add business value. You’re driving your team to focus on the user and the client and not on the technology itself. As a strategic CIO, you are and your team are known as the ‘problem solving’ team brought in to help your organization think about how to solve business problems and deliver business value through the use of technology.

If you are struggling to define yourself as a CIO, make sure you push yourself into the strategic planning aspects of the role. Make sure you keep yourself and your team focused on the business problems and the users that are affected by those problems. If you can’t (or won’t) become the strategic CIO your company needs, you may find yourself as a Sidelined CIO in the not too distant future.