Getting Along with the Boss
The relationship between a CEO and a CIO has become one of the most important tag teams in business
today. Insurance companies struggle to find success without strong leadership from the CEO and the
CEO can’t provide that without a talented CIO sitting alongside, providing insight on how technology can
help the business prosper. We asked three leading insurance IT consultants their view on the relationship
between the CEO and the CIO. Providing insight are: Mike Fitzgerald, a senior analyst with Celent;
Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner; and Rob McIsaac, senior
vice president for research and consulting at Novarica.
What Do You Think?
This month’s question:
What do CIOs need to do to improve their relationship with their CEOs?
There are two aspects to the issue of
what CIOs need to
do to improve their
the CEO: defense
First, from a
CIOs must make sure their relationship
with the CEO does not deteriorate. The
best way to do this is to “keep the lights
on” (deliver reliable IT services) and
keep the CEO off cable news (avoid a
data security breach). Just these activi-
ties alone can consume most of a CIO’s
time and can, if the CIO is not careful,
eat up all of it.
Second, in terms of moving the relationship to a higher level of value, the
CIO must engage their boss around the
issue of how will technology affect their
business. The CIO is uniquely positioned
to identify specifically, where technology will move the insurance transaction
from the traditional model of indemnity
(pay when a loss occurs) to one of loss
avoidance (or loss mitigation).
No one else in the organization is
so well-positioned to assist the CEO
with these matters. Doing so will only
increase the value of the CIO and, by
default, the relationship between these
The role of the
CIO continues to
get more difficult
as they balance
keeping the busi-
ness running and
mation. This trans-
lates into three CIO imperatives.
First, they must be a leader in advising
and delivering technology innovation.
They must contribute to the digitalization strategy and guide the company in
using emerging technologies.
Second, they cannot forget their role
in day-to-day operations and provide operational efficiencies required
for competitiveness. In past Gartner
studies with insurance CEOs, this was
reported as a shortcoming of many
CIOs. There was the belief that some
CIOs focus too much on technology
innovation and not enough on driving
the operational-efficiency requirements needed for business success.
Lastly, CIOs must better show the
value of IT in delivering business
success. New and improved metrics,
especially those aligned with business
outcomes, are required, as well as new
performance dashboards, which will
provide improved visibility into IT’s
between CIOs and
CEOs is critical
for both success
The dynamic of
is complex and
by no single issue, but there are some
keys for CIOs to consider.
The relationship is built on a foundation that presumes commitment to
promises made. Failing to deliver on
those promises will lead to near-term
career course adjustment, irrespective
of all other items. If delivery is a foregone conclusion, what can CIOs do to
improve this relationship? Communicate effectively.
CIOs need to learn the language of
the business they are in and that they
support. They need to be the Rosetta
Stone that translates technical issues
into layman’s terms, allowing CEOs
to understand business imperatives,
opportunities, and risk mitigation
solutions. The ability to break information down in a way that can be easily
digested will allow the CIO to become
a trusted advisor. The right message,
at the right time, in the right context
is critical for IT leaders to win over the