What is a CIO?
Table of Contents
A CIO, or Chief Information Officer, is someone who is the head of information technology within an organization. As technology becomes more vital to a company's success, demand is on the rise for forward-thinking CIOs who can convey business ideas and needs, then find and put into place cutting-edge technology solutions to fill them.
CIOs have become key contributors in developing strategic goals, and are seen as 'business visionaries'. They often report directly to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), and sit on executive teams. In addition to being tech savvy, a successful CIO needs to manage effectively, and have excellent communication skills.
What does a CIO do?
The role of CIO has emerged as a critical executive position in most organizations. CIOs help shape organizational strategy by recognizing how significant information technology is to a business, and by educating employees and executive management on its value and well as its risk.
CIOs must grasp and quickly respond to a number of market forces in order to figure out how technology can generate business value. This includes disruptive technology, cloud-based technology, vendor product offerings, mobile-first computing, big data analytics, social collaboration platforms, and a customer base conducting business across physical and virtual channels. These market changes have forced CIOs to rethink the role technology plays in nearly every aspect of business.
CIOs work alongside a business and look for the next opportunity to use technology to create a new product or service. They look at every side of the business, from employee productivity to operational efficiency to customer service and business goals. In large organizations, CIO's will delegate some of the day-to-day operations and rely on tech specialists to manage specific areas. Central to a CIOs success is interpersonal communication skills such as relationship building, negotiation, presentation, verbal and written communication, and team development.
The following are some skills and duties of a CIO:
- Evaluate the risks of using new technologies and computer systems
- Enforce short-term and long-term information technology strategies
- Negotiate contracts with service vendors to cut costs
- Collaborate with corporate heads to shape interdepartmental tech policies
- Enforce short-term and long-term computer and information systems budgets
- Keep current with emerging technology trends
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What is the workplace of a CIO like?
CIOs work in nearly every industry. They work for both large and small businesses, ranging from one-person businesses to firms with thousands of employees.
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Chief Information Officers come from a range of careers – and not always from IT – so regardless of your current position you can put your name the running. Wherever you get your start, it will take years of hard work, a stellar track record, and maybe even some luck to fulfill your C-Suite aspirations.
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You are an IT professional with a good set of skills and a strong desire to move up the career ladder. How can you develop your capabilities and potentially climb towards the heights of senior IT executive or CIO?
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