• StrataFusion

Critical Success Factors for Today’s CIO -- IT Value Part 1: The Changing CIO Role



IT value means many different things to many different leaders. For some, it’s about solving an urgent issue -- like remote work during a pandemic. For others, it’s about solving long standing issues like outdated technology.


In today’s world, all CIOs need to have a well-rounded view of the business and industry landscape. This three-part series will be dedicated to three critical success factors for today’s CIO: financial acumen, business acumen, and technology acumen.

Financial Acumen


Our first post in this series starts by following the money: financial acumen. That’s important because IT value many times boils down to a finance discussion. What level of financial acumen should CIOs have? Let’s take a look at three areas with the most impact.


  1. A great relationship with the CFO

  2. An “IT CFO” role dedicated to the IT organization

  3. The mindset of managing IT as a business unit



Financial acumen Is crucial to be able to “follow (all) the money,” investments, short term efforts that impact revenue, and big opportunities. Financial acumen doesn’t mean a CIO has to navigate like a CFO, but it does mean a CIO needs enough knowledge to effectively partner with the CFO for maximum impact to help drive success. It’s important to note that the CFO’s role also is changing, focusing more than ever on AI and data. This means that the CFO/CIO relationship is not only strategically critical but also incredibly symbiotic. CIOs and CFOs have a lot to gain from each other, so remember the importance of finding and understanding all the common ground that lies between these leadership roles.


Know Your Business, Know Your Numbers


Financial acumen and collaboration are key to understanding common top-line key performance indicators (KPIs). It’s important to remember that KPIs measure business results, not standalone project or technological status. It’s important to follow the money from technology efforts to revenue changes, customer experience engagement, service product or service quality and reliability. Align your strategy and spending with company strategy.


Post 2020, there is a shift in how companies realize and measure IT value, as well as how CIOs must measure success moving forward -- because it’s not about progress, it’s about results.


Three steps to measuring IT value (for results)

  1. Identify and quantify the outcome (revenue, customer or market growth, employee engagement, lead conversion, etc.). Pick one as primary and one as secondary.

  2. Identify and quantify the financial spend Impact (redirected spend; capital/depreciation/OpEx) and align with business strategy

  3. Deliver results in less than six months

The financial and economic aspects of business can be a weak area for IT. For smaller companies and companies in transition that may not have a CIO or CTO, there is an opportunity to consider fractional CIO and fractional Office of the CIO/CTO services, which can bring deep experience to the function at a fraction of the cost. Fractional services can solve a lot of headaches, providing insights and performance improvement opportunities.


And we know it’s working when a client tells us “this has paid for itself four times over” in under six months, and “you’ve saved me an entire year of work” getting a handle on IT economics & finance, and understanding what we spend our money on.


Always follow the money.


If you want more information on fractional services, we can help!


Elinor MacKinnon