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Are We Asking Too Much Of Our CIOs?
6 November 2014

Are-was-asking-too-much-of-our-CIOs

Chiefly Impossible Officer?

Why is it CEOs are not asked to be on top of all things technology or the head of marketing expected to be a technology guru, yet the CIO is now expected to still be current with all technology issues, understand all the business drivers and business development?

It is understandable the CIO should know the business mission and values and be able to align technology to sustain the mission and values and achieve business goals, as the time is long gone when IT could be run in splendid isolation.  The CIO should also be an integral part of the C-Suite to ensure an effective contribution to high level decision making.

But the role of CIO should not be stretched too thin as even within the IT environment, there are many more issues to consider in addition to core business systems such as big data, cloud computing, mobile technology and data security, not to mention BYOD.

Ray Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO of Constellation Research Group outlines four personas of the next generation CIO:

  1. Chief “Infrastructure” Officer: “Keeping the lights on” and managing existing systems
  2. Chief “Integration” Officer: Bringing together internal and external data and systems
  3. Chief “Intelligence” Officer: Fostering business intelligence and getting the right data to the right people
  4. Chief “Innovation” Officer: Looking for disruptive technologies to drive innovation

All feasible, reasonable and within a manageable scope.

Managing the infrastructure and integration of systems to produce the necessary business intelligence and fostering innovation are all core IT functions but are also core to the efficiency and success of any business.  They should therefore be closely aligned to the business goals and that is the role of the CIO.

A truly effective CIO needs focus and vision, the ability to see the big picture in order to integrate all the components and the ability to communicate the IT role across the business to all other business units.

All too often IT is blamed when required data is not available, enabling staff across the business units to access and manipulate data as required, creates a much more flexible and educated workforce.  The business needs to support the CIO in establishing this kind of culture.

Finding individuals with IT expertise and business skills or vice versa is not that easy.  Finding individuals who have expertise in narrower fields who can communicate and integrate with other business unit leaders is more realistic.

CIOs should always be concerned with aligning IT to business.  A suitable structure and strategy is needed from the bottom of the organisation right to the top with solid support at the top.

The CIO needs to successfully engage IT functions to support key delivery to the various business units and with the rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) there are improved business processes. It has also consolidated the provision of an organisation’s products and services making today’s market a lot more powerful and productive.

Ray Wang concludes “the office and activities of the CIO need to be in tune with the needs of the organization.  This is more than a shuffling of responsibilities.  Work towards a meaningful redesign that will carry you through the decade.