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What are the characteristics of CIOs considered competitive differentiator?

Sunil Shah | July 22, 2014
Elevating your stature to competitive differentiator status doesn't have to be an exercise in the black arts. CIO research demystifies what it take to become a competitive differentiator.

For many CIOs, being seen as a competitive differentiator by their business is as hard to achieve as it is to understand. For these CIOs, becoming a competitive differentiator seems like a black art.

It's time to dispel that myth. According to CIO research, there are clear differences between CIOs who are considered competitive differentiators by their businesses and those considered cost centers. You make to make the jump from the latter to the former? Read on.

They Work in Organizations of Different Sizes.  According to CIO research, CIOs considered cost centers by their businesses tend to work in companies in two size ranges: Rs 2,000 to Rs 9,999 crore, and Rs 500 to Rs 1,999 crore.

Competitive differentiator CIOs, on the other hand, tend to work for companies with over Rs 10,000 crore in revenues.

Perhaps, it's only natural then, that the latter also work in organizations with larger staff counts. The majority of competitive differentiator CIOs work for enterprises with 10,000 to 50,000 employees. The majority of cost center CIOs work for enterprises with 1,000 to 2,500 staffers.

Their Businesses Have Different Focuses.  The focus area of the businesses of cost center CIOs and competitive differentiators also differ. The businesses of cost center CIOs tend to focus on creating operational impact, that is, increasing the efficiency of operations, and using resources more optimally.

On the other hand, CIOs who are seen as competitive differentiators tend to work for businesses that focus on creating customer impact, that is, creating more choices of products and services, lowering cost for customers, and ensuring more efficient customer transactions.

They Spend Time Differently.  What's the number one thing that cost center CIOs spent their time on in 2013? If you thought managing IT crises, you're right. Whereas, CIOs seen as competitive differentiators spent the majority of their time interacting with IT vendors and service providers.

In the next year, competitive differentiator CIOs want to spend most of their time interacting with their company's CXOs and business executives. Most cost center CIOs, on the other hand, plan to spend much of 2014 in security management and planning.

Not surprisingly then, the most important IT management initiative cost center CIOs plan for the next nine months is "marketing the IT department so that the business has a better understanding of IT's capabilities and processes."

For competitive differentiator CIOs, much of the next nine months will be spent improving business processes such as supply chain management or HR management.

They Have Different Challenges.  For the majority of Indian CIOs who are considered competitive differentiators by their businesses, the number one challenge is inadequate in-house skillsets (in areas like cloud computing, virtualization, mobility, business intelligence and analytics and security).


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