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Do hunches beat facts in CIO decision-making?

Paul Rubens | Feb. 19, 2016
If you ignore the data and make IT decisions based on intuition, take heart: You are not alone. But is that the best approach?

While CIOs use personal judgment of  the situation at hand as the key decision-making tool, the report found that advice from trusted technology partners, peers and suppliers outside the company was the next most important source of information for decision-making, followed by analysts' and consultants' reports and other data.

Watch out for those silos

What's striking is that advice from within the company – from peers in IT or related business areas –came in a poor 4th.

This suggests that many IT departments are becoming isolated from the rest of the business: although their CIOs are open to advice from outside their organization, many seem to be reluctant to collaborate with their business colleagues.

The report suggests various ways for CIOs to break down this isolation, including the following:

  • Setting up several independent groups  working on the same problem
  • Discussing ideas with trusted people outside of a project team
  • Inviting outside experts into their meetings

The study questioned 300 IT leaders, but Miller says that his own experience talking to CIOs is different.

"Experience counts for a lot, but most CIOs I talk to are more engaged with their peers than these figures suggest," he says. "So this is surprising – I find that most projects are done in partnership with line of business colleagues and with customers – most CIOs are collaborative."

His message to CIOs is: "If are too insular you will fail, because you are not serving the business or your customers."

But overall Miller says the outlook for people interested in the CIO role has never been better, whatever decision-making process they use. "I think there is no doubt that the CIO's job is more interesting today than it was 10 years ago," he says. "It's not just about keeping the lights on:  There's the opportunity now for an individual to transform the business, which can be very appealing to some people.

Does that mean that the CIO role is now one for a new generation of more business-oriented IT professional? Miller doesn’t think so. "There are a lot of older CIOs who are well-suited to this kind of role, and others that are less-suited to rapid change and business transformation.

"Success is determined by attitude to the job, not about how long you have been CIO," he concludes.


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