Who’s Answering the Next Big Question? Global CIO Miao Song of Mars

Community Blog
Written by Drew Lazzara

JUNE 10, 2021

During each episode of the Next Big Question podcast, we speak with executives and thought leaders about a big, timely business question. In this episode, Liz Ramey and I spoke with Miao Song, global chief information officer, petcare at Mars. We asked Miao: What should organizations expect from the CIO role? 

Despite an ongoing digital revolution that impacts consumer behaviors, the way we work, and go-to-market strategies, Miao believes that the fusion of technology with business hasn’t moved the role of the CIO far enough in a strategic direction. She believes that CIOs need to push themselves as leaders to achieve greater visibility and influence.

But she recognizes that the evolution of the role is a two-way street. The CIO exists in a business context that is also changing; often, there are competing perceptions about the scope of executive responsibility. Working within that context requires a closer examination of expectations by CIOs and their peers.

Here, Miao discusses the factors that separate the old, functional view of the CIO and the new, empowering view she feels leaders need to embrace.

The way of working, even the way IT teams organize themselves, has to be very, very different than they were ten years ago… Now, with the rapid change of the customer and digital, you need new solutions constantly. Every organization has to move faster.”


Miao Song:

“If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have said that in most organizations, people really thought, first and foremost, that the CIO ran IT as a function. But it’s not a function; it’s a key enabler, a key partner, but also part of the core business nowadays. So it’s very, very different as the result of this whole evolution in the last ten years.

It’s become a very exciting role, but also very challenging for a few reasons. One, every organization has limited budget; there isn’t an organization that has unlimited budget in technology… The CIO has to run the IT solutions very efficiently. You have to deliver that.

The second part – and this relates to transformation – the CIO has to lean forward in the leadership team, constantly bringing new ideas, being provocative to business leaders and being able to drive transformational initiatives using technology at the core. Sometimes it’s not easy, because if the organization traditionally sees the CIO as a functional role, they come to you with ideas that are more about support. Basically, ‘Hey, you support my business; why are you telling me how to run my business?’ So, that has to be a constant conversation of how technology and digital help the business to run, evolve and innovate. 

The third thing is that a CIO knows quite a few processes in the organization. In my past, I’ve been fortunate enough to work in different industries – from consumer, to oil and gas, to healthcare. I’ve seen in each of them that the CIO is in a unique position among leaders in that they understand all the processes in the larger organization – from order-to-cash, finance, supply chain, you name it. There isn’t anybody that understands end-to-end processes holistically better than the CIO in the organization… These are multiple hats the CIO wears, and that makes the role super exciting and rewarding.” 

Listen to the full episode of The Next Big Question featuring Miao Song from Evanta, a Gartner Company here, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app

To find a local community of your CIO peers, visit evanta.com/cio.

Drew Lazzara headshot

Drew Lazzara

Sr Content Manager at Evanta, a Gartner Company


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