CIO debate gets a dose of reality

Recently compiled salary research has added a dose of reality to media reports spruiking the million-dollar salaries paid to Australia's most prominent CIOs.

While there are Australian CIOs such as Qantas IT chief Fiona Balfour earning upwards of $1.2 million, the average CIO, according to CIO magazine's annual salary survey, is still earning between $250,000 and $300,000.

In fact, figures from CIO magazine's survey show that at the lower end of the scale most salaries start at around $150,000.

The role of a CIO brings with it a high degree of public and shareholder scrutiny, but not necessarily a six-figure salary as reported in last week's Computerworld story, Debate soars: is a CIO worth a million bucks?

Shareholder accountability makes a tough job even tougher, according to IDC analyst and manger of the InTEP forum, Peter Hind.

"The biggest barometer for commercial organizations is the share price - the last thing an organization wants are wild share fluctuations and in the end it impacts on the quality of service that is delivered," Hind said.

"In relation to Qantas, after going through all the excessive operational cost-efficient focus, it would be nice to think they might be a bit more strategic with their application of IT; they seem to have the mentality of cost cutting to greatness."

Candle Recruitment CIO Rod Rayner, who worked at NEC for 15 years before taking up his current role, said, "I worked in NEC for 15 years and the stress is not as high as the responsibility I have here - I believe if I don't do my job well it will have a profound effect on the company," he said.

"I am happy with what I am being paid which is a fair rate for the work that I do and I would like to believe that if I do a good job and if share price increased I would be compensated," Rayner said, adding a CIO should be a mentor to other business managers.

"I think the role of a CIO now is more in line with focusing on business groups and not throwing technology at problems - I put the skills I have into practice daily and think a CIO is hired for the benefit of the company. If their job is to get everything done at a lower cost by using technology to their advantage and if it means considering outsourcing or putting in new technology then they have to stand behind their decisions as a business case."

The results of Computerworld's online survey "Are CIOs worth a million bucks?" will be published next week.