CIOs Eye the Corner Office; At the CIO Network conference, it’s clear they’ve left their narrow, geeky world behind

CIOs Eye the Corner Office

At the CIO Network conference, it’s clear they’ve left their narrow, geeky world behind


Feb. 10, 2014 4:47 p.m. ET

Who is today’s chief information officer? Still the techie in the windowless office behind the mainframe?

Not by a long shot. Today most CIOs have a more expansive role—and a set of aspirations to match. Now that the CIO manages the ever more complex information flow that drives a company’s internal decisions as well as its links to customers globally, the job has the look of a corporate steppingstone to higher ground.

That was the message from The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Network, a group of executives from companies around the world who gathered in San Diego last week for their second annual meeting. They heard from experts on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, the economy and management, among other topics. But they also made some statements of their own.

Asked “Do you see yourself as a chief executive officer,” 70% said yes. The vast majority said they now report to the CEO, a big increase from just a few years ago, when at least one and usually several layers of corporate bureaucracy separated the information officerfrom the top gun.

Another sign that we’re in a new era: This gathering of CIOs from a diverse set of industries—manufacturing, health care, technology and others—included more women than any other C-suite conference the Journal has hosted.


One of those executives explained where she’d like to take the job. “We don’t want to refine the role of the CIO,” she told me. “We want to redefine it.”

That was made clear when the CIOs broke into five task forces to address a range of public-policy, management and industry issues. One group examined the future role of the CIO, and one of its top recommendations was for CIOs to find ways to extend their reach beyond their companies’ walls. “CIOs who communicate effectively have a positive impact on the company, internally and externally,” the panel said.

The CIOs hope their bosses get the message: View your information officer as an essential and versatile player, able to represent the company and participate in the big decisions. And to lead.

The meeting wasn’t all chest-beating. Asked to grade their own companies on how effective they are in fostering collaboration internally, 45% picked a middling “C.” Only 5% gave themselves an “A.”

And when the CIOs proposed a series of ideas for new, game-changing enterprise products that they believe deserve investment, they got a friendly reality check that any aspiring CEO might appreciate. Ted Schlein, a partner with the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, was asked to judge the ideas. “I’m very glad,” he joked, “you all have other jobs.”


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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