wHy cIoS need to
underStand tHe
BuSIneSS to Succeed
CIOs need to understand the needs of the business if they are to truly
leverage technology in innovative ways.
James Schinski
Vice President and CIO, PP&L Corporation
Every strategic CIO will tell you that knowing how your company
operates on a day-to-day basis is a prime requirement if you want to be
successful. Your company, as well as others, operates across a complex
value chain composed of business processes that include company,
customer, supplier, and distribution channels. Each of these channels
involves one or more process activities that develop, market, manu-
facture, deliver, and service the products and services your company
provides customers. If you are a CIO who wants a seat at the execu-
tive table, you must understand the activities associated with busi-
ness processes across the entire value chain, their interrelationships
with complementary processes, and the associated information touch
points. If you do not, you will fail. It is as simple as that!
Following are the objective, key messages, and examples used in
this chapter.
1. Reinforce for CIOs and key IT personnel the need to
understand how the business operates, the value pro-
vided to customers, the competitive market, and industry
the strategiC Cio
Strategic CIOs attain the role from dierent paths. One path could be
from within the company either from the IT organization or from one
of the business units. Other paths could be from a company within a
similar industry or dierent industries, with or without an extensive IT
background. Regardless of the path, the CIO needs to understand the
company business strategy, competitive market, and industry trends.
How CIOs gain business knowledge, depending on their background
and path to their current role, is the subject of this chapter. Following
is a brief summary of how the CIOs discussed in this chapter learned
about their company.
1. A strategic CIO will not be successful without a well-
based understanding of how the business operates.
2. e depth of understanding includes knowledge of the
key processes across the entire value enterprise.
3. CIOs move into the role from the business, within IT,
from other companies, in similar or dissimilar industries.
4. CIOs learn about the business in dierent ways, depend-
ing on experience.
1. CIOs and IT directors share their experiences in learn-
ing about the business.
Mike McClaskey, CIO, Dish Network
Scott Blanchette, CIO, Vanguard Health
Steve O’Connor, vice president and CIO, CSAA
Insurance Group
Niel Nickolaisen, CIO, Western Governor’s University
Kevin B. Michaelis, vice president, Global IT, and
CIO, Air Products and Chemicals
Greg Lewis, IT director, Ironclad
2. Training Tomorrow’s business leaders and CIOs
Dick Brandt—Director, Iacocca Institute—Global

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