Who’s in Charge of Information?

According to a recent InformationWeek article, CIOs aren’t very visible in today’s Fortune 100 companies, at least measured by their tendency to appear on the company’s management team web page.

Even at companies like Google and eBay, where information is the lifeblood of the organization, the CIOs don’t appear among the other  top execs (at Business Objects, CIO Sheri Andersen makes the cut, but she’s shown at the back of the team, far from the CEO.)

What does this mean, if anything? The positive spin would be that information is so important to these organizations that it’s simply part of the business — but then what does that make the role of the CIO? Just implementation and plumbing?

This is not a new issue: this week’s posts from Frank Buytendijk and Tom Hudock cover the seemingly-eternal IT-business divide, and not much seems to have changed since Gartner’s take on things a few years ago:

“Most CEOs view their CIOs as effective operational leaders. Yet only a few view them as full business leaders.”

If you’re reading this, you probably believe, like me, that information is the last great underused asset in today’s organizations. And perhaps THE big problem preventing greater deployment of BI is that there’s no one person in charge of that making better use of that asset.

Various proposals have been put forward for Chief Analytics Officers, Chief Decision Officers, and Chief Knowledge Officers, but sightings of real-life specimens remain rare.

For a glimpse of the future, we should look at another often-overlooked strategic asset: the workforce. Despite general lip-service recognition of the importance of “assets that wear shoes”, there are still very few Chief Human Resources Officers, and HR rarely gets the budgets and executive investment they believe is necessary.

Hence, sadly, I suspect that we’ll be talking about this issue for a long time to come…