The CIO as Manager, Leader and Entrepreneur and Board engagement

 The changing role of the Chief Information Officer.

The two CIO papers

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The CIO as guru, operations guy and order taker are all typologies that are being sidelined or replaced. The skill-set of the successful CIO has changed profoundly. In the current strategic era, the CIO is at once ‘...managing a portfolio of applications, technologies, people and processes.’

The way companies buy, build and use technology is changing rapidly, which means the teams that build it and run it will need to change too. As recently as the dotcom crash or global financial crisis, efficiency and cost cutting were critical success factors; now the CIO is being asked to demonstrate how ICT is contributing actively to the top and bottom line. Khalid Kark, research director at Forrester believes that for those who do not  ‘ are going to be commoditised as an entity and as an organisation, and you'll see a lot of business areas trying to get ICT on their own and trying to do things on their own because they don't get the value and support they expect from technology through the CIO.’

This paper will look at the varying and somewhat paradoxical demands being placed on the CIO under the lens of CIO as manager, as leader and as entrepreneur. In the Harvard Business Review, Martha Heller notes that the position of CIO ‘ a set of contradictions that lies at the heart of IT leadership.’ There are wishes to be increasingly strategic, yet demands persists to be operational.

New technologies, and their use and diffusion within organisations, are redefining not just the CIO role but business models in general. Arguments could be made that the CIO role encompassing all three typologies will develop. This suggests the need to manage day-to-day IT, develop better relationships both internally and externally, and help discover and implement technologies. This also brings forth the possibility of splintering of the CIO role into its constituent roles.

Ultimately, the CIO could help inform the business strategy and even help reorganise business processes and structures to help propel innovation.

David Smith, 22/08/2014