Friday, 21 November 2014

Report: Many CIOs are Failing to Understand their Ever-Evolving Role

It wasn't too long ago that the main responsibility of the chief information officer (CIO) was to ensure that the company IT department kept up with the interoffice e-mail system and the website however that was then.  Today, however, things have changed.  The modern CIO is an integral part of company management with a more prominent role than ever before yet many of them do not fully grasp their new role, according to a brand-new report from the Society for Information Management (SIM).

The report lays out the role of IT and the CIO in the modern business environment.  It then goes on to discuss how the new roles are supposed to fit into the larger business environment and the fact that the new rules are not being implemented as they should be in many companies.

For example, information technology now involves more than just keeping company computers running.  It is all about transmitting data, analysing data and linking together every organisational department through effective communications.  This new paradigm suggests that the CIO needs to worry as much about company management as infrastructure support.

The report presents data from a study involving just over 1,000 responses to a survey presented to senior IT leaders.  Among the participants, 451 identified themselves as a CIO – either by title or workplace role. According to the data, CEOs are unhappy with the fact that their CIOs do not seem to understand their new roles within the company structure.  CIOs are still keeping computer systems functioning but they are not providing the data, analysis and other IT tools needed to help companies be at their best.

Possible Solutions

 With IT services and technologies consuming ever-larger portions of the company budget, more attention needs to be paid to the issue of CIOs not meeting executive management expectations.  There are three solutions that need to be considered, either separately or in a combined effort.

Firstly, companies need to adjust their cultures so that the IT department is no longer considered a separate, stand-alone entity that exists by itself in a back corner of the building.  IT needs to be considered just as integral to the overall success of the company as the sales force, labour and office staff.

Secondly, the CIO position must be elevated to executive level management at companies in which this has not yet happened.  As with the chief financial officer or chief operations officer, the CIO should be reporting directly to the CEO as a member of the executive management staff.

Thirdly, the CIO needs to be included in the discussions of any business decisions involving the other members of the executive management.  As one of the company's senior officers, he or she cannot be expected to contribute to their full potential if they are not included in executive level decision-making.

There is little debate the roles of both IT and the CIO have evolved over the years.  That evolution is now occurring at a faster rate, requiring more urgency to get it right.

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