What Does CIO Reporting Structure Mean for IT at Large?

A previous manager of mine used to say that structure follows strategy. So it seems logical to conclude that a business’s organizational structure contains significant insights about - and implications for - the role of IT within that company.

Gone are the more traditional expectations of IT as a cost center, and along with it the expectation that the CIO would report directly to the CFO. With every new reporting structure that emerges, a new conversation of strategy and importance is started. For example, here are a few that I ran across on Twitter:

With IT on its way to being seen as driver, enabler, and – most importantly – a partner of the business, it seems that the CIO’s natural evolution would be to report directly to the CEO. This relationship may solidify the business’s view of IT as a strategic differentiator – a segment of the business worthy of the CEO’s direct attention.

In a Gartner report released this past October, research showed that CIOs are already pulling up a prominent seat at the proverbial table, with 41% reporting directly to their CEO.

This made me wonder – who do the readers of the Intel IT Peer Network and followers of the Intel IT Center (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook) report to? So we created a poll to discover if this reporting trend extended to our community of IT leaders as well.

The results were interesting – the majority of our readers responded that their CIOs report directly to their CEO, while the traditional CIO/CFO model was cited as the second most common reporting structure.


In order to continue to understand the landscape of reporting structure, I’ve left the poll open for further votes – let me know who your CIO reports to, and I’ll check in again in a few months.

Connect with me in the comments below or on Twitter (@chris_p_intel) – I’d love to know how you view organizational structure and its impact on IT (or vice versa).

Does who the CIO reports to imply anything about the importance of the role or is it simply a meaningless line on an org chart?