The CIOs agenda and memberships

Being a CIO is quite a lonely existence. When a CIO starts his/her new role, they are expected to provide an organisation with an IT vision and then have to work towards that vision. The CIO then becomes a salesman and proceeds to sell that vision to his/her own teams, at board level in an easy jargon free language but also to all the internal and external stakeholders of an organisation as well. As he/she drives the team towards that vision, he/she also has to ensure that systems are stable, reliable and maintainable to support business activities with minimal downtime. In addition, he/she has to be aware and ready for emergency situations with disaster recovery/business continuity plans. It is no wonder then that the CIO, as the ultimate IT authority within an organisation can feel isolated and alone at times.

Well, that was the legacy that we all inherited. In 2004, a group of CIOs got together and discussed whether it would be possible to have tools and resources at a CIO’s disposal that could remove this isolation and add real value for not only the CIO but for the organisation as well.

So, how did I get involved and where is the CIO Executive Council (Council hereon) heading? Well, I got involved quite accidentally, to be truthful having, bumped (cyber equivalent of) into a senior executive on a social media site. Once I saw the potential of the membership and knew how helpful the membership was for CIOs, I felt proud and privileged to assist and further the profession by welcoming CIOs within the UK to become active members.

To the CIO, there are many memberships available but there is currently no membership available that is by CIOs, for CIOs. The uniqueness of the CIO Executive Council is that it is comprised of hundreds of leading CIOs globally, who together form a reality-tested peer advisory resource. There are no vendors, consultants, analysts, or hidden agendas, just IT leaders. The common denominator is that they are all committed to helping members save time and money, avoid mistakes and make better leadership decisions.

CIOs don’t have to walk alone anymore as the Council, at the request of a member will instigate and establish a match, with, for example a CIO with “been there” experience to help mitigate risk and share a treasure trove of knowledge and insight. Humans are unique as we like to share the knowledge and experience that we have gained, for the wider good and it is indeed this quality that has allowed mankind to conquer water with dams and to reach for the stars. The CIO Executive Council recognises this and allows CIOs to learn and share knowledge directly with each other to remove the necessity of “reinventing the wheel”. This knowledge sharing is continued by providing members the opportunity to speak at global events and sourcing authoring, if they wish, in CIO magazine. Mojgan LeFebvre, CIO of Biomerieux said, “There’s nothing more reassuring than picking up the phone and calling another CIO who has faced the same challenges and the right solution. The readiness of peers to share their experiences and knowledge is incredibly valuable – more so given the global reach of the Council and access to peers all over the world.”

The Council’s Future-State CIO program was developed by a group of thought leaders from many global companies and the goal was to define the future of the CIO role and then to offer a path forward based on essential executive leadership competencies.

In the past, CIOs have spent the majority of their time managing their time for operational excellence.

Today, most CIOs are expanding their focus to include partnering with business on business transformation.

The future state CIO will spend the majority of his/her time driving business strategy and innovation for competitive advantage.

Finally, I want to take some time to discuss the IT Value Matrix. This was created by dozens of Council members joining forces on a schematic that would highlight the key characteristics and activities that optimise the value of IT to the enterprise. CIOs have used this to influence business stakeholders and explain to their staff how to focus and organise the IT function. I could list other benefits and value for the CIO, such as content/research/whitepapers, suffice to say, the CIO Executive Council membership is as valuable to the CIO, as tools are to a workman.

In summary and to finish with a quote, the CIO Executive Council works for the CIO, as it is by the CIO, for the CIO and the “secret sauce” of the Council is the extensive encrypted database of members’ needs, interests, goals and expertise. David Wright, CIO Europe, Capital One PLC said,” Council resources and peer discussions help us refine our strategies and develop key leaders.

Now, that is a powerful concoction!

I welcome UK CIOs to attend the CIO Executive Council’s next European Regional Meeting, 2 Dec 2009, in London.

Please click here to register your interest to attend (CIOs only, please)  or contact me directly, as below.

For further information and to become a member, please contact me via:


Mobile: 07771 776752

Next week, I’ll be discussing either Microsoft’s Courier dual screen booklet OR How can an organisation leverage IT to create competitive advantage?

Yep, I haven’t actually decided, yet, who knows something else may catch my attention and I may decide to write about something completely different. Why not, after all, it is my blog!


About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

2 Responses to The CIOs agenda and memberships

  1. Hi Ahmed,
    Well, I’m sure the CIO Executive Council sounds, and no doubt is, a very useful resource. And having previously played the role of what used to be called the ‘Data Processing Manager’, I appreciate the potential utility. My concern is that there is a damping effect on innovation. No CIO will do anything unless other CIOs have already done it… this always results from a closed group talking only amongst its own members.

    In your prognosis of the changing role of the CIO, you describe a transition through the three disciplines of market leaders (ref: Treacy & Wiersema). That is, from ‘operational excellence’ (past), through ‘customer intimacy’ (present), to ‘product innovation’ (future). I’m not convinced this is the sequence that stakeholders value. And I would observe that Treacy & Wiersema’s findings demonstrated that few if any organisations manage to excel in more than one of the disciplines of market leadership. Leading organisations choose one discipline (and hence one set & type of customers) and adapt to excel in that one discipline. Those that attempt to excel in more than one discipline achieve mediocrity in all. So I would say, analyse and understand what your stakeholder’s value above and before anything else.

    Furthermore, as Steve McConnell observed more that a decade ago (re-iterating earlier observations of like nature), performance is extremely left-skewed when graphed with respect to the population distribution of firms. Benchmark evidence (and common experience) indicates that around 75-80% of organisations score one or less on a 0-5 point scale of effectiveness. Hence, many (most?) people, including those who achieve CIO status, spend most of their careers in organisations that perform poorly. As they never see or experience high performance (or CMMI-style high maturity for that matter) they cannot recognise it. Nor do they really believe such a future-state is achievable.

    So… the danger for the majority of CIOs (and the stakeholders they serve) is that they waste their time and effort discussing ‘the way forward’ with peers who are themselves responsible for low performance organisations, while the 20-25% of high performers accelerate into the future and leave the rest behind.

    My question to you, which I will be grateful if you will pass on to other members of the CIO Executive Council, and especially members of the Future-State CIO Programme, is this:

    “How does your IT Group rate on the Rightshifting Scale of Effectiveness, a 0-5 point scale measuring how effectively you achieve the strategic & operational goals established by your business management?”

    Note 1: highly effective organisations such as Toyota & Tesco score 4-5… but the median score is < 1.
    Note 2: those who seek effectiveness automatically achieve efficiency (cost reductions etc); the converse is hardly ever true, as many cost reduction measures damage the very activities that add value for the end consumer and taxpayer (throwing out the baby with the bath-water).
    Note 3: other pertinent and insightful questions are: "What is my group's Net Promoter Score?" and "Which of the actions performed by my group add value for which the customer is prepared to pay, which add no customer value but are necessary in any case, and which are pure waste?"

    Best regards,
    Grant (PG) Rule
    MD, Software Measurement Services Ltd.

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Mark Chillingworth, Editor at IDG Communications responded to a question (based on this blog)
    What kind of support/tools do CIOs need? on a social media site that I am a memberv of, as follows:

    The challenge is for organisations to see the CIO as the individual who can release them from the chains of resellers and give the organisation a direct relationship with customers and a direct sales channel.

    Ian Gotts, Founder and CEO at Nimbus added (Visit Ian’s blog by visiting For information on how Nimbus can assist with business process improvement:

    The CIO needs ot be seen to be a trusted advisor to the business rather than an IT Director with a fancy title. Cloud Computing is driving an even larger wedge between IT and the business, because the business can go and use a Cloud Computing solution without the CIO’s knowledge or permission. Salesforce is a good example, explored in my blog

    And they (the business) are oblivious of the risks which is why I’ve co-authored 2 books in the Thinking of.. series. These pose ALL the questions that someone needs to consider when approaching Cloud Computing either as a customer or a software vendor

    I replied:

    Mark, I totally agree with you. The organisation simply wants to move into a better position to sell its products and ideally wants someone to manage their IT and provide competitive advantage, a topic I covered in a recent blog – -.

    Ian, I was of the opinion that creating one system that allowed processes to be integrated may not be easily achieved, until now. I think, I may have finally found the answer and tool for my three rule set for processes.

    1) Do we know what processes we have captured in existing systems?
    2) How do we go about capturing processes that are not captured by our existing systems?
    3) What processes can we improve?

    I read your blog article, visited the Nimbus site and watched Nigel Warren’s intro to Nimbus control 2007. As I was watching the video, at the back of my mind I was asking myself, why hadn’t I heard of Nimbus? That was soon answered by Nigel.

    Cloud Computing does present the opportunity to the business to go directly for a cloud based solution, circumventing the IT dept, i.e.the IT Director/CIO. However, I do believe that in organisations where IT Directors/CIOs are attuned to the business and those that have built good relationships, networks and rapport with their business counterparts are considered such an intrinsic part of the fabric of the organisation that they are valued, trusted and relied upon for their advice, also mentioned in my post – .

    In such organisations,considering solutions without the IT Director’s/CIO’s knowledge would never be considered. In organisations, where this does happen, it maybe time for the IT Director/CIO to move to new pastures, as it is
    indicative of executive board level management failure, as posted –

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