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Convergence in the C-Suite

Why more CIOs are thinking like CEOs

Why more CIOs are thinking like CEOs
Ed Clary, CIO and senior VP of distribution for Haverty Furniture Companies Inc. Photography by Zack Arias

Chief Information Officers have stepped out of the data center and into the C-suite, a journey that’s profoundly impacting companies. No longer solely responsible for ensuring the technology works, the CIO now plays a crucial role in helping companies determine business direction based on technological opportunities.

It’s a journey Ed Clary is taking as CIO and senior vice president of distribution for Haverty Furniture Companies Inc. (Havertys). Headquartered in Atlanta, Havertys owns more than 100 furniture stores as well as online and catalog businesses. Clary’s management role has expanded far beyond the standard CIO role of tending to IT. In addition to having two business lines report to him, Clary is actively engaged in transforming the business.

The days of a CIO going to a meeting and solely listening to what the users want is rapidly becoming an outmoded model. “CIOs understand the business and technology and are marrying those two together into the best system,” Clary says. “A CIO can’t rest on his laurels of understanding technology. You’ve really got to understand how information is used to transform the company.”

Moving to the Heart of the Business

More CIOs are becoming important decision makers in their organizations, according to the 2011 IBM Global CIO Study, The Essential CIO. These leaders are using insights gained from technology to simplify operations, business processes, products and services.

For the study, IBM interviewed more than 3,000 CIOs in person, the largest number of C-suite participants ever involved in an IBM study. The respondents were drawn from communications, distribution, industrial, financial services and the public sector. The CIOs represented 18 major industries in 71 different countries from mature markets and growth markets. Much of what was discovered in the survey parallels Clary’s career.

“If you staked your career on being a technical guru, your opportunities will be somewhat limited. But if you’ve aligned yourself with the business, you’re really a natural resource for senior management.” —Ed Clary, CIO and senior VP of distribution for Haverty Furniture Companies Inc.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at savage.shirley@comcast.net.



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