Technology, IT Performance

CIOs who talk to Wall Street a rare species

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As a CIO, it's unlikely that you participate in earnings calls or in meetings with Wall Street analysts, but a few do and it's usually to showcase the emphasis an enterprise has on technology.

Indeed, State Street CIO and EVP Christopher Perretta is one of the lucky ones, according to a post by CIO writer Kim Nash (full disclosure: she's also a Words with Friends rival.). She recounts how Perretta launched a "massive" technology transformation project in 2010. I Googled "CIOs who participate in earnings calls" and not much came back except for Nash's post.

The financial giant has a technology tab on its corporate overview page to underscore what it thinks is important. The tab leads to a "message from the CIO" in which Perretta reveals that 20-25 per cent of State Street's annual operating budget is earmarked for technology development. However, Perretta is absent from State Street's 11-member management committee.

I blogged a while back about how State Street was laying off 520 IT workers and transferring another 320 to outsourcers as it worked through a migration to the private cloud. IT at State Street is clearly front and center. After money, it's primary product is information. 

Nash makes a final point. "I can almost hear the collective snore in the audience when the CIO steps up to the microphone." It's vital that analysts understand technology and IT decisions, but most of the time, they do not pay attention. 

Trotting out the CIO to Wall Street has probably never occurred to most CEOs. What's the point if analysts are not the least bit interested in technology and IT (That CFOs always make Wall Street appearances is a strong indication who has more power in the C suite)?       

It's all a matter of emphasis.

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Pearl Zhu 90 Points | Thu, 02/23/2012 - 17:35

Enjoy Kim's article and John's viewpoint here, I would say, it may need more fundmentally change the culture too much  focus on the short-term revenue number, today, the convergence of business & IT strategy and the technology's art of possible may need become the driver for long term business growth, business overall, finance and technology perspectives need be well shaped seamlessly together to perceive organization's growth potential.thanks

Kim Nash
kim nash 1 Point | Thu, 02/23/2012 - 16:02

I think more CEOs *should* trot out CIOs to Wall Street for several reasons, not least of which doing so would show how savvy CEOs are about their own future. Technology is the business for many, many companies. Information-based products and services are a competitive advantage: Only your company has the data you have. Use it to come up with new products and services and make those you already sell that much better. CIOs should be helping formulate that strategy, as an officer of the company with a fiduciary responsibility to keep the company healthy. But also because the CIO's unique perspective and expertise. I'm sure many CEOs get that, but it might be nice to hear it and see it in the context of discussing company financial performance. 

John Dodge 1535 Points | Thu, 02/23/2012 - 16:13

Good stuff, Kim. Thing is the CIO might be a lot smarter than the CEO. I have found that to be the case in my travels....  



Paul Calento 255 Points | Thu, 02/23/2012 - 15:11

The (elevated) role of IT differs by organization, industry and most importantly by individual. In the case of financial services, technology drives differentiation and innovation. But to be public facing, you have to also talk the talk. That requires a select type of CIO. Unfortunately for many, they "want" a seat at the table, but don't take advantage once they get it ... proving that, like most jobs, all CIOs are not created equal.

--Paul Calento

(note: I work on projects sponsored by and HP)

John Dodge 1535 Points | Fri, 02/24/2012 - 14:31

Good points, all, Paul. Indeed, the financial industry and several others are all about producing and disseminating information...and keeping it private and protected. So a more public CIO makes sense for an environment where showcasing technology conveys strength.