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March 6, 2018

How is CIO role changing?

CIO or Chief Information Officer has always been part and parcel of every major firm. First coined in 1981 by William H. Gruber, a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and William R. Synnott, former Senior Vice President of the Bank of Boston, this title is given to the highest-ranking executive in the information technology and computer systems field.
From just focusing on leading data processing and Information Systems departmental technical projects in the mid-1980s to being key contributors to the growth of the company, CIOs growth over the past years is tremendous. As we are entering a technological era, more and more companies are turning digital, and thus the roles of CIOs are ever increasing. The job of CIOs is not risk-free as CIOs have a large number of roles such as recruitment of professionals, development of policy and strategy and supply of finance.

Importance of Chief Information Officer to companies

In this present world where technology governs almost all the integral parts of a firm, it is quite stable that the significance of CIO is keeping on increasing as each milestone pass. As per numerous surveys, it is seen that almost all the firms and businesses are unrecognizably or considerably modified by digital usage as any firm that does not invest in its IT infrastructure becomes incompetent. This again increases the importance of CIOs in the firm.

Without CIO, it will be difficult for a firm to keep track of the technological developments. More than that, CIOs have to be on the lookout to buy the cheapest solution, but one that can justify the firm’s needs in the present and the future as well as pushing the understanding of the digital world throughout the firm. Outdated legacy systems have to be upgraded or changed, and CIOs can only do that.

CIOs are seen as the technology leaders who are working for the better delivery of the business goals of the firm. They are becoming increasingly essential in computing how to extend profits via the use of ICT frameworks as well as decreasing expenditure and restricting damage by setting up controls and preparing for possible disasters.

Roles and Responsibilities of CIO in a company

While playing a significant role of a business leader as well as having played other major roles, CIOs set up and head the current technological strategies of the company. CIOs are always supposed to accord an executive-level interface between the technology department and the rest of the firm. Since they deal with the technology field, they create business value through that particular field keeping in mind the latest tech systems and procedures.

Responsible for the all-together function of tech in their firm, CIOs identify, propose, create and implement plans that keep in level with the present as well as future technological requirements of the firm. With digital innovation, the line between the digital as well as the technical world gets blurred, and it is up to the CIOs to maintain the equilibrium. Developing a bimodal capability to flex the innovation requirements is another important task of CIOs. If this capability is not met, it will be difficult to involve the firm in the digital stream. This includes the capacity to evaluate and guide risk/value tradeoffs at digital speed.

CIOs are also required to plan both the ICT policy and ICT strategy of an organization. The ICT strategy comprises procurement, future proofing, and the internal and external standards laid out by an organization. The CIO must also maintain and modulate the ICT policy, describing how ICT is used and administered. ICT policy, as well as ICT strategy, is required for the safety of the company in short as well as the long-term process of strategizing for the future. CIO plays an integral role in the digital transformation of the firm by acting as a bridge, but mobile computing, Cloud computing, collaboration platforms and big data analytics pose new challenges for CIOs. Other roles a CIO take up includes supplier management and Information risk management (IRM), development of customer service platforms, vendor negotiations and IT architecture.

Changes in the role of CIO in a company

A CIO now is a jack of all trades. As mentioned before, with the increase in new technologies, more and more firms enter into the digital era. CIOs, being the head of the department, are required to have skills that go beyond the traditional management of technologies. Other than the necessary skills, CIOs are now expected to have corporate financial skills, legal expertise, vendor and partner management, data management skills, knowledge in compliance and security and project management. All this confirms the fact that the role of CIO has indeed undergone a metamorphosis.

The ever-growing responsibilities and liabilities that have plagued CIOs have also enhanced their position and authority within an organization too. A few surveys have also bought the conclusion that sometimes a CIO has an essential position that a CEO in a company, which is a huge step from the past where the CEO does not even acknowledge the existence of CIOs. While it is true that the overall role of CIO changed with the infusion of technology, there are changes in the exact roles of CIO with the difference in the tech used. If this is not followed, the company will lose the customers to other competing companies. Compared to earlier times, CIOs now have to fight a host of threats that could threaten the business, its employees as well as the customers. Systems should be employed in such a way that performance and security criteria are met along with the attainment of the overall approach of the business and then identify its policies and procedures.
Right now, CIOs are very less likely to stress the bottom line savings and instead, they put their entire energy into developing the existent top line. Leading revenue with a powerful technology stack can be more useful than simply conserving costs. CIOs are deeply involved in directing the corporate strategy achievement. This directing has increased in such a way that the influence CIOs had in the direction of the business has never been greater. This is and has always been a unique opportunity that comes with unparalleled pressure.

These sudden rises in the importance of CIO mean that they also have to ensure the varying business rules and laws to safeguard their infrastructures so that those can attain the responsibilities of the company as a whole. Being a sponge for information has become equally important as the workflow between the firm and its customers and suppliers are used to enhance the profits of the firm. Digital experimentations have to lead to digital scaling. By identifying the present cultural strength, behaviors and positions that exist, CIOs recognize them as the new changes to respect the employees’ contributions to the company. Independent surveys have found that CIOs are investing more time in the business executive components of their position in the firm compared with three years ago. The building required bench strength to climb the firm’s digital business through aid for the digital ecosystem. For carrying out this new job, CIOs either hire an entirely new team or assign the job to an existing team.

The success of CIO is determined based on the service they integrate rather than on what they build. All these denote the change of role into the C-suite from the back office. The various challenges faced due to a wide variety of the roles have made the role of CIO one of the most demanding roles in the C-suite. By focusing on a wide variety of fronts at all times, a CIO can be successful. The said a wide variety of fronts is risk management, operational excellence, value provision and the denotation and implementation of strategic technological opportunities to assist the business directory.

The role of CIO is changing day by day, and these changes can be expected not to stop soon. The importance of CIOs in the company is growing because of this. Without a good CIO, the company will lack the technological advantage it has over its competitors. The changes in the roles which has its risks are positive, and it ensures the growth of CIOs as well as the company itself which in turn means that the employees and customers remain satisfied.

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