The state of the CIO

Where does the CIO stand nowadays in the business world? According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report of last year-highlighted in this article by Camille Tuutti-it's not so great. The first statistic Tuutti highlights is that, on average, CIOs last about 2 years before moving to another position. There could be a few reasons for this, but it's clear that the position of CIO is thankless and stressful. However, recent interviews with agency CIOs found that there is a growing sense of optimism and empowerment among CIOs. This comes from both an expansion of what the CIO role means in terms of responsibility, as well as a growing potential for the CIO to directly impact how well the business manages to expand the strategic relationship of IT to the business. This doesn't mean, however, that the CIO can simply abandon the responsibilities of operating the IT side of their jobs. In fact, it's essential that they do that perfectly. Bob Woods ““ founder and president of Topside Consulting Group, put it this way: Many CIOs have abandoned operations and direct mission support and are now content with enterprise architecture documents and the like, he said. “I just don't think that's enough,” Woods said. “You don't really get the license to speak in policy terms if you can't run a basic operation. If I can't get a laptop delivered in less than two months, I don't care how good your strategic plan is.” But VanRoekel said CIOs possess business acumen and recognize IT as a strategic asset. “Part of my job is to help move the needle”¦from discretionary to strategic, [from] viewing IT as an ability to check your BlackBerry for e-mails or to call the help desk when your computer doesn't work versus thinking about how we solve national priorities,” he said. CIOs also agree that the position does carry some clout with it. Even the idea of a “chief” of something helps establish who, overall, is in charge of the IT department. However, the role must be clearly defined within the organization ““ the separation of what a Chief Technology Officer does compared to the Chief Information Officer, for example, must be made clear along with a host of other responsibilities. While the role of the CIO is still immensely stressful and often fraught with surprises and risks, it's one that is beginning to define itself in a new way for the coming years.

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