Are You Reaching the Right CIO?

Are You Reaching the Right CIO?
Stephanie Tilton - Wed Aug 12, 2009 @ 09:27AM
Comments: 21

How many times has your company decided to produce a white paper aimed at "CIOs in large enterprise companies across all industries"? On the surface it may seem this is a fine approach. After all, a CIO is a CIO is a CIO, right? Turns out that's not the case.execs

Chris Koch of ITSMA blogged about this recently, in his post outlining the CIO archetypes he helped develop while working for CIO Magazine. Here's a summary of the three archetypes featured in CIO Magazine's State of the CIO 2009 report:

  1. Function Head: These CIOs are primarily focused on activities that face the IT organization and are intended to achieve IT operational excellence.
  2. Transformational Leader: These CIOs are primarily focused on creating change for their enterprise through close partnerships with business operations and cross-functional corporate departments. CIO leadership activities are centered more on process reengineering and automation, not just delivering the basic IT services.
  3. Business Strategist: These CIOs focus most of their attention on driving business strategy for competitive advantage.

(Check out Chris' blog to see a fourth category that CIO Magazine no longer tracks but Chris thinks is worth noting.)

As Chris says "To market to these people effectively, you're going to have to get to know them as being part of multiple, unique segments. That means understanding not just the top 10 IT drivers for 2009 as predicted by Gartner or Forrester. It means understanding different CIO roles, skills, aspirations, and business contexts."

Interestingly, just before I came across Chris' post, I ran across one by Jennifer O'Connell called "All C's Are Not Created Equal" in which she commented on the findings of CIO Magazine's State of the CIO 2008 survey. Jennifer explains how critical it is for organizations - especially those selling technology - to develop personas based on their insights into the CIO archetypes. As she notes: "Imagine going in to a sell a 'business strategist' CIO with a message crafted to appeal to a 'functional head.' Or vice versa. Even a one-size fits all approach falls down here, as you can't truly illustrate your ability to meet the needs of one if you're trying to straddle the needs of all three."

She makes a great point - basically you're sunk if you don't know which CIO type you're talking to. But how can you figure that out?

You can glean additional insights from the demographics that CIO Magazine shared about the 500 CIOs it surveyed for the 2009 report. Turns out the healthcare industry lays claim to more Function Head CIOs, and state and local government has a higher claim on Transformational Leaders compared to other vertical industries. Business Strategists predominate in automotive and media (though -- as CIO Magazine noted -- it would be more fitting if Transformational Leaders were in charge since these sectors are ripe for huge change).

This information is a virtual treasure trove for technology marketers developing a white paper. The piece aimed at the CIO in a healthcare organization could walk the reader through the ways that the solution helps address performance, control costs, and keep a tight rein on security (where relevant). As a bonus, it could include a checklist that the reader could refer to when comparing vendors.

The white paper geared to the CIO in state and local government could focus on how the solution can help close the gap between IT and business, while enabling the company to advance its architecture and business processes.

Finally, the paper meant for the CIO in an automotive or media company could outline industry trends and the ways technology can help the company innovate and differentiate from the competition.

What are your ideas for better connecting with the range of CIOs out there?

Comments: 21


1. Anders Online Marketing   |   Thu Aug 13, 2009 @ 01:51AM

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2. Christopher Koch  |  my website   |   Thu Aug 13, 2009 @ 06:35AM

Hi Stephanie,

Great post and thanks for calling out my post. One thing I would add is that the archetypes are not set in stone. They describe a set of skills that most CIOs have to some degree. It's just that most CIOs will tend to trend closer to one of the archetypes than the others.

3. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Thu Aug 13, 2009 @ 07:08AM

@Anders - Glad you came across our blog!

@Chris - Thanks for stopping by. Good reminder you make about the nature of these archetypes. Like personas, they offer marketers a steppingstone for getting that much closer to their prospects and customers. And like personas, they need to be continually revisited to see how priorities, aspirations, etc. shift over time.

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