CIO Succession - Business Background

Just as interesting is the difference in degree of business background between insiders and outsiders. All of these CIOs are versatile executives, and many have experience in business roles outside the IT function. When we examined individual backgrounds, we found the preponderance of career experience for most CIOs has been in technology organizations. However, there are 13 whose backgrounds are primarily in other business functions—finance, engineering, general management, and others. All 13 were insiders, and, as noted earlier, nearly two-thirds report directly to the CEO/President. And all 13 are in companies over $10B in revenue.

Figure 14: Insider vs. Outsider – Business vs. IT Background

Insider vs. Outsider – Business vs. IT Background

An understandable pattern emerges. When looking outside for a CIO, companies want technology background in general and CIO experience in particular. When promoting familiar internal candidates, they are more comfortable with proven executives whose IT experience may be limited. Especially when companies want to inject greater business orientation in their IT organizations, they are likely to put in one of their own rather than hiring from the outside.

An interesting facet of business background is board membership. A dozen of the CIOs list membership on the boards of non-profits and associations, but only five serve on public company boards. So public board service is not yet a common experience or expectation, even though CIOs must work with the board regularly in many corporations. We are seeing an increasing trend in CIOs being invited to boards, but this is a nascent situation. Given that half of these CIOs are under 50, we would expect many of them to grow into board roles over time.