What is a Chief Information Officer (CIO)?
Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the title, for a role, given to the head of the information technology department or function in an organization. The "C" or "chief" in the role name is added to reflect equivalence in influence and seniority with the other "C-Suite" roles such as CEO (Chief Executive Officer), COO (Chief Operating Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) , and CPO (Chief Procurement Officer)
- Organizations that use the CIO role and title are organized by function
- Each function manages a strategic resource for the enterprise
- In effect, the head of the function is given responsibility and authority to manage the complete life-cycle of the resource
Information and Communications Technology (IT or ICT) is a strategic resource for organizations entrusted to the IT Function - usually, a separate and distinct department. As head of the IT Function a CIO manages the complete life-cycle of Information Technology - identify, select, build, deploy, monitor, and fix the IT asset.
CIO is the acronym for Chief Information Officer. CIO acronym is also used, albeit less frequently, for Chief Investment Officer. This article pertains to the Chief Information Officer.
History of the CIO Role
- The term CIO came into existence in America in the late 1980s, early 1990s with only 10 per cent of the 4000 IT departments listed in MISmagazine’s database in mid-1990s using the CIO title
Evolution of the CIO Role
CIO 1.0: IT is a resource
CIO 2.0: IT is a strategic resource
CIO 3.0: IT Drives Competitive Advantage
Emergence of the internet (aka the Dot Com Era)
Large organizations are typically split into subsidiaries and divisions. Each subsidiary and/or division can have a CIO who heads its IT department. The "head of IT" for the overall or parent organization is called Group CIO
, and of its divisions, Division CIO
Different Titles for the CIO role
In addition to CIO, the "head of IT" role is assigned many different job titles including, but not limited to, the following
- Head of IT
- Head of ICT
- IT Manager
- Department Head, IT
- Senior Vice President (IT)
- Vice President (IT)
- IT Director
History of the CIO Role
CIO Reporting Relationship
CIO commonly reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), or Chief Operating Officer (COO). With the advent of the internet and the deep interconnection between marketing and IT, of late, CIO role is starting to report to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or alternatively, the roles of CIO and CMO are merging onto the role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).
CIO Vs CTO
A CIO is a strategist, a CTO is a technologist.
- CIO role concerns itself with using technology to create business value with a focus on business IT alignment
- CTO role concerns itself with the effective and efficient deployment of technology with a focus on architecture
These distinctions are arbitrary so the roles are used interchangeably and increasingly being ignored with the CTO role morphing into the Enterprise Architect role and the CIO becoming the head of IT. In some organizations, CTO
is given to the head of the entire IT department. In others, the CTO reports to the CIO. On rare occasion a CIO job title reports to the CTO job title.
Indeed, the differences between the CIO and CTO roles have many different takes. Here is one
The Chief Information Officer (CIO)
The CIO is internally faced and focused on the company’s bottom line – how to improve internal communication, PMO management, and process control. The CIO is generally focused on improving the efficiency of internal processes in order to guarantee effective communication, maximize productivity, and keep the organization running efficiently. This is an operations role and since it is internally facing the CIO is typically responsible for Infrastructure, Service Delivery, PMO, etc.
The Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
The CTO is really a customer facing role (surprised?) and is focused on the company’s top line. The CTO ensures that the company is implementing technologies that enhance product development. The CTO is generally responsible for the engineering team and employing a technical strategy to improve the end product (thus customer facing). This is a strategic role and the CTO is responsible for leveraging new technologies to enhance the product (which can include infrastructure as well but only as it relates to the product and not the internal IT operations).1
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