Experienced IT practitioners, including current chief information officers (CIOs), must target 2008 to begin acquiring at least one or two years of non-IT business unit management experience if they wish to viably pursue new CIO opportunities opening in 2009 or 2010. 

"For the past few years we have detected some intriguing CIO hiring trends: CIO candidates are not required to have formal technology-oriented backgrounds but they must be able to show that they have managed a non-IT business unit," says Ken McGee, distinguished analyst and Gartner Fellow. "Professional qualifications and competence are still necessary for those wanting to become CIOs, but these qualities will not be sufficient in coming years."
McGee says there are two significant trends affecting CIOs:
* New CIOs need non-IT, business unit executive experience if they wish to get a new CIO job;
* New, non-IT duties are being given to more and more "new" CIOs.
To confirm these trends, Gartner spoke with the heads of IT recruitment at four of the largest professional search firms in the world. On a combined basis, these firms place approximately half of all Global 1000 CIOs in any given year.
Gartner asked these executives whether chief executive officers (CEOs) were looking for particular educational backgrounds and technical know-how. The answers from these top recruitment executives were that CEOs had no preferred educational backgrounds. One said: "When push comes to shove, it doesn¹t matter."
Educational discipline may not be central, but technical experience is still an essential part of a CIO¹s background. CEOs are also now looking for CIO candidates that have business unit management experience. They want CIOs who have run a department other than IT. One consultant said: "The best overall background today is to have come up through the ranks in technology and spent some time outside in one of the businesses."
Gartner does not infer that formal technical education and training is no longer important. However, McGee says: "For some time, we have believed that CIOs needed business experience as well. Now we have discovered that leading recruitment executives report business unit management experience to be an actual requirement of chief executives looking for CIOs."
One recruiter commented: "The ability to leverage technology for competitive advantage ­ to innovate ­- that's really where the sweet spot is."
The IT recruiters noted that experience in rolling out ERP systems meant that many CIOs had particularly good knowledge across the whole range of activity within their businesses. Many have reached the position where they are equipped to take on broader, business responsibilities.
Gartner believes that many will want to take on non-IT responsibilities or to leave IT and assume responsibility for businesses that they have recently become experts in.