How is the CIO position evolving over time?

cioThe position of chief information officer is a dynamic one, changing rapidly as business and technology evolve. Perhaps in a bygone era, CIOs were seen primarily as “the help” – when a new computer system needed installing, or a software package needed implementing, the CIO was the one assisting other employees with understanding basic tech issues. That primitive view of the CIO is now obsolete, however. Today’s business technology leaders do not merely install machines and make them run – they enact grand, sweeping changes that impact the futures of their enterprises.

A few significant changes to the information technology field have taken place within the last decade or so. The 21st-century CIO is significantly different from his predecessors. Here is an in-depth look at three big developments for modern CIOs.

CIOs have a sweeping impact
Jacob Morgan, a contributor to Forbes, recently wrote that ”the future of work” is an era in which CIOs touch all aspects of an organization’s life. They’re not merely making decisions about computers – they’re bringing a deeper vision to the table that encompasses marketing, recruiting, hiring, long-term growth and many other endeavors.

“CIOs are uniquely positioned within the organization and reach everyone and everything, and they are perhaps the only ones with the ability to do so,” Morgan wrote. “Whether they do so or not is dependent on the culture of the organization. … For every CIO who is happy to stay back in the data center, there is one trying to break free of the old stereotypes of solely looking after boxes and wires.”

Some businesses are restructuring themselves to account for the changing role of the CIO. ZDNet noted that in India, for example, 70 percent of CIOs will report directly to their companies’ CEOs by 2016. That’s because CIOs are rapidly transforming into some of the most important people at their companies.

IT and marketing blur together
Many companies have both a CIO and a chief marketing officer (CMO), and the two jobs are rigidly siloed. A CIO collects information and stores it, while a CMO is in charge of the philosophical thinking, determining how a company can take its data and convert it to concrete actions for marketing purposes. Times are changing, though, and CIOs aren’t necessarily entirely separate from their marketing departments anymore.

Every company places a premium on collecting data and acting on it. In fact, Forbes says that CMOs often now receive bigger budgets from their corporate headquarters than CIOs do. That’s not entirely a bad thing for the IT community, though, as the two areas have become intertwined. Today’s CIOs are expected to think critically and make big decisions about marketing. They’re considered on an equal level with CMOs intellectually, and they should capitalize on that sentiment.

“Big Data” is something, but not everything
The biggest buzzword in the business world today is “Big Data.” Numbers can tell a company all it needs to know, from how to hire the right people to how to trim the budget.

Statistical analysis has become a major component of information technology. There’s no mistaking that. It can be argued, though, that there’s more to IT than numbers. Morgan says that true leadership is about understanding both statistics and people.

“The new breed of CIO, however, is all about building that connection and adapting to the corporate culture,” the expert wrote.

The role of chief information officer has dramatically changed. The CIO is no longer just the “computer guy.” He or she is an important decision-maker with a lot of say about an organization’s future. The role will no doubt continue to evolve as time goes on.

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