"For a lot of organisations, while they understand the concept of innovation they don't necessarily have structure around it," says Hillard. "One thing that IT does really well is putting a structure around things and CIOs usually have a pretty good handle on methodology."
By playing on their financial strengths and methodology capabilities, CIOs can take something ephemeral and make it concrete and measurable, says Hillard.
"They should start by actually helping the CEO to put structure on innovation, describing its contribution to the long-term financial health to the organisation, and suggesting a methodology to optimise the contribution that innovation can make to that long-term financial health."
As IT shops have slowly been transformed into a service base, CIOs have had to gather a better understanding of financial management.
"As I look across the c-suite I think the CIO is one of the strongest financial managers on average," says Hillard. "They need to actually leverage that as a key strength and apply it more broadly within the organisation as we move to more service oriented capabilities."
Shahani-Mulligan says her CIO reports to the CFO, which she feels is beneficial for the finance piece.
"When IT works with the CFOs, they can factor the decisions into both the expense side and the top line growth side," she says.
"They see the models, the operating plans and they can take the IT decisions and factor them into the grand plans of the company... the CFO generally is very closely tied to the CEO and business heads so it also creates a good connection [to the CEO]."
According to Deloitte report — Tech Trends 2015 — CIOs are able to help create new revenue streams for the business as part of a new 'API economy', where application programming interfaces developed by IT teams internally can then be shared and monetised through partnering companies.
To extend the use of these core functions, Hillard says CIOs will need to display financial management skills so they can advise on the cost to the business, and how these APIs can be used more effectively by third parties.
While working to maintain this multi-faceted approach, it might feel as though the efforts go unnoticed.
The best way for a CEO to be able to appreciate the hard work the CIO is doing for the business is for the CIO to ensure full transparency, says Hillard; especially in the case of a CEO that may want to step in and micromanage.
"If you want to manage the person you'll report to, you want to ensure that there's complete transparency within your IT shop," he says.
"Expose the working in full but also have in place processes that assure that it is self-managing... while the CEO is invited to be an active part of IT management, you're actively seeking them to add value strategically rather than to get them to manage individual issues and trying to solve problem.
After all, says Hillard, the CEO is not likely to be an expert.
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