El Mamoun Alaoui Hassani Atlas
Dr. Chihab Benmoussa
Management Information Systems (MIS 3301)
Engaging in CIO-CxO "Conversations that Matter": An Interview with Peter Keen.
MIS Quarterly Executive presents Peter Keen as follows: He is the Chairman of Keen Innovations. He maintains advisory relationships with corporations and governments on building the business drivers for IT policy, organization and investment. He has been an educator, researcher, writer, speaker, and advisor to top management for four decades…His doctorate is from the Harvard Business School, his BA is from Oxford University, and his was born in Singapore.(Page 61) In this paper, I will be writing a reaction to the interview of Peter G.W Keen by Omar El Sawy, student at the University of Southern California (U.S.). The interview was held during the 30th edition of the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) in 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Keen gave then a perspective on how the field of IS could transform and morph itself into what he called “conversations that matter.” (MIS Quarterly Executive, 2010, Page. 61) The interview consists of eight questions -on the same theme- that Dr. Keen answered in a concrete and brief way. The structure of my reaction will follow the same trend as I will be presenting you with a reaction for every answer provided by Dr. Keen and I will finish with an overall reaction to the ideas put forth by the Harvard Business SchoolAlumni. Q1: I have heard you say more than once that CxOs are not interested in “IT.” Can you explain what you mean by that?
Dr. Keen answered saying that CIOs (Chief Information Officer) often tend to focus on the technical part of IT in their communication to the CxOs while the latter want to know more about the exploitation of IT in a business oriented way. He gave the example of Facebook saying that more than 300 million people use the platform without having any clue about its technical structure and yet they can exploit it in many fruitful ways. This is what he meant when saying that CxOs are not interested in IT. To quote Dr. Keen: “Business-savvy CIOs in progressive companies focus in their communication with CxOs on what they can do with the technology rather than on the form. They understand the difference between what they themselves know and what business people (CxOs in this case) want to hear.” (MIS Quarterly Executive, Pages 61-62) He then carried on talking about an issue that he sees in many companies which seems ‘vital’ for the future of IT departments. In fact, Dr. Keen believes that CIOs are often isolated from their subordinates and are busy with CxOs suite, which makes the ‘non-CIO’ people of the IT department only peripheral and technology oriented rather than business-savvy. This issue is important according to Dr. Keen because nobody in the department will be able to succeed the CIO after his/her retirement since they are not prepared to be effective in the business setting. “The general is not the army!” says Keen, CIO should give more importance to developing the next generation of business-savvy IT leaders.(MIS Quarterly Executive, Page 62) Seeing the background and the knowledge that Dr. Keen has about the subject, I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, the CIOs and CxOs should communicate and pair up in a strategic way that leads the business to a brighter future, and this cannot be achieved unless the communication between them is clear and business oriented (I am referring here to the CIOs focusing more on the form than the actual impact that IT can have on the business). Moreover, Information technology (IT) has become today a strategic component and resource of many firms.Therefore IT coordination requires effective cooperation and leadership within the firm.Thus, the communication of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is crucial for the operational and...
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