MIT Study: How Business Tech Leaders Spend Their Time

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As members of the C-suite, CIOs and business technology leaders have a lot of demands on their time. Time, arguably, is the most precious resource for any business tech leader or member of the C-suite.

In addition to `keeping the lights on’, they are working with the CEO and the senior leadership team reviewing and adjusting strategic goals, helping to oversee customer experience efforts, identifying opportunities to grow the business and create new Go-to-Market models, managing and mitigating risk and working with their direct reports and team members to achieve their objectives.

To explore this further, the MIT Center for Information Systems Research recently developed a brief as to where business tech leaders are spending their time. The research by Peter Weill, Stephanie Woerner, and Gail Evans is based on surveys of executives in 2007, 2016, and 2022. Demonstrating a shift over time in job titles, the first two surveys focused on Chief Information Officers while the 2022 survey included Chief Technology and Chief Digital Officers.

The research reveals that business technology leaders at high-performing companies are spending more time with customers and developing complementary enterprise capabilities. They’re spending less time collaborating with co-workers and working on their organization’s technology stack.

High-performing companies are designed by the MIT Center for Information Systems Research as those that are in the top quartile for innovation and profitable growth.

One of the most interesting findings which also maps with our research at HMG Strategy is how business tech leaders are spending nearly twice as much time (10% in 2007 to 19% in 2022) managing a complementary enterprise business capability. While the MIT brief cites risk management, data management, shared services and digital innovation as examples, we’re seeing more instances of CIOs having plus-one roles in taking responsibility for supply chain operations, logistics, customer experience and other activities.

Meanwhile, as companies have become more digitally connected to their customers, the amount of time spent by business tech leaders in connecting with external customers or channel partners has increased 70% since 2007, according to the MIT study. This reflects, in part, the role of business tech executives in enabling innovation for customers “as it informs an understanding of customers’ needs.”

Multiple research studies conducted over the years reveal that companies that are customer-focused and place customers at the center of their strategies tend to have higher levels of profitable revenue growth than median companies. CIOs and business technology leaders for high-performing companies are also able to apply their expertise in identifying and reshaping processes to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

As a business technology leader, how does this map with your own experiences? Where are you spending the majority of your time now? Please share your comments below. Meanwhile, become part of the discussion by registering for one of our upcoming C-Level Technology Executive Summits.

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