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The Changing Role of the CIO

The Changing Role of the CIO

Changing Role of the CIO For simplicity, let’s agree to call the person who manages IT the CIO, because no matter what their actual title is, they have certain role requirements to fulfill. These are more formalized in larger organizations and more ad hoc in small ones. Building and maintaining the infrastructure—the technology, applications, services, and staffing used to support the business—used to be the CIO’s only job.

Now it is a core competency, one of the four main roles the “next-gen CIO” is being asked to play, says Ray Wang, CEO and analyst, Constellation Research. The ideal CIO will play all four roles; the less well-rounded one risks losing some of his functions to business leaders and teams. Wang says this is starting to happen in many of his firm’s clients.

The 4 personas of the Next Generation CIO are:
• Chief Infrastructure Officer
• Chief Integration Officer
• Chief Intelligence Officer
• Chief Innovation Officer

Their profiles appear in Figure 1 below (“How do you spell CIO?”), along with notes on three dimensions of the role: How much of the total IT budget does that persona control? Does that role require a technology or a business focus? Is it internal-facing or external-facing? These roles move across the spectrum from an internal-facing technology focus to an edgier position with a dual technology/business, internal/ external orientation—and from an operational to a strategic perspective.

CIO 2013

A report from the Info-Tech Research Group recommends a similar movement from a purely technical to a combined technology and business focus. The title tells why: “Being a Strategic Enabler Ensures the CIO Role Remains Relevant.” According to the report, “as long as CIOs act like glorified operational managers, they will jeopardize the strategic influence of the CIO position. There will always be a need for someone to maintain servers and networks, but this person will not be needed at the executive table. Today’s CIO must find the balance between business needs and technology capabilities. This CIO needs to turn IT into an internal consultancy that will work to leverage the technological infrastructure to build new business functionality.”

Info-Tech’s action plan for building such a consultancy contains these steps:

  • Forge links between business and IT strategies and processes
  • Develop indicators that link IT performance metrics to business goals
  • Secure resources for innovations by identifying opportunities rather than by cutting costs
  • Align IT team members with business units and leverage their capabilities by developing training opportunities

Brittenford System’s CIO Advisory Services model is geared to work with management as well as IT and systems staff in implementing such action steps. For more information, download our Guide to CIO Advisory Services.


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Learn more how Brittenford’s CIO Advisory Services can enhance the owner’s or CIO’s personal effectiveness in a number of ways. Download our Guide to CIO Advisory Services, addressing the growing trend of outsourcing all or portions of the Chief Information Officer function in small to midsize businesses (SMBs), as the complexity of information technology (IT) grows.

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