Engaging in CIO-CxO "Conversations that Matter": An Interview with Peter Keen. MIS Quarterly Executive 9(1): (2010).
Hamza Lahkim Bennani
Dr. Chihab Benmoussa
Q1: I have heard you say more than once that CxOs are not interested in “IT.” Can you explain what you mean by that?
Peter Keen, The chairman and advisor of Keen Innovations, answered this question very clearly, where he stated that it is important that CxOs know the importance of information systems in their company and how it can extend and integrate relationships between the companies processes. For the majority of CxOs, knowing the innards of an information system is not as crucial as knowing how the plateform developed is used and how it can increase the performance of a company. He talked about Facebook where he showed how 300 million people use it daily but don’t know how the plateform works, they just use it for communicating with people. “CxOs are tuning out, and the more comfortable they are about the value of IT, the less they want or need to tune in on the old technology discourses” said Peter Keen, which means that even when CxOs start using IS in their company and giving it importance, they don’t regret it and think that is enables more business capacities. “Over the last five years, the whole business has become much moreIT-aware and IT-literate, and sees the need to get more involved in IT so that business benefits are delivered. As a result, It has become more influential and more proactive., and has driven an increasingly an entreprisewide culture.” (Andrew Mullock, CIO, BNP Paribas)
As far as CIOs are concerned, Peter Keen thinks that their role in the corporation is as important as the role of any other CxO, sometimes even more important. CIOs know exactly what is going on inside the comany, and through information technology they know how to solve problems in a very efficient and effective way. CIOs should be among the decision making commitee inside the company; their influence on strategical decisions could be very important and fruitful. Peter Keen thinks that business-savvy CIOs are the ones who know how to communicate with other people inside the company, from the CxOs to the emloyees in the IS or IT departement. Key skills of today’s CIO include the ability to translate Board requirements into solutions. He needs to talk the language of the Board and the investors. All innovation in our industry will be technology- led or technology facilitated. (McGill, 2011)
As I see it, CxOs and CIOs are interdependant in an organization, they should all work in a harmony that will enable the company to perform better in terms of solving inner problems that will eventually enhance profi making and more revenues. It is illustrated in the example Peter Keen gave by saying that and General is not an army without his subordinates. In this case, the general are the CxOs, and the subordinate are the CIO and the people working in the IT department. To put it in a nutshell, companies should not think that It is involved only when there is something not working weel inside the company and work is not well synchronised.
Q2: As you look back at the last 30 years, how do you think that the role of the CIO has changed in terms of its focus on the operations mission vis-a- vis business strategy, and what does that suggest for CIO role changes in the future ?
For Peter Keen, the role of the CIO nowadays compared to 30 years ago underwent some changes. Before, a CIO was just a technology shop manager that is considered one of the costs to be controlled; but years later, the role of the CIO has changed to be a crucial part of an organization, that is now responsible for many tasks such as cost containment and operations liability. Insourcing and outsourcing is also one of the tasks a CIO is responsible of, and it is bringing...