Does Anyone Still Want to be a CIO?

Calling the shots for technology spend used to require three magic letters in the job title. Not anymore, says Patric Gray for TechRepublic. As the focal point of technology use drifts further and further into the hands of business users, so too does the responsibility for managing that technology.

IT Leader No Fun

The likes of Chief Operating Officers (COOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are stealing the show, leading Gray to wonder whether the CIO position was ever relevant in the first place. With all the operational baggage the position entails, it’s no wonder that not a single MBA student at Babson College wants to be an “IT leader” – especially not when it’s the COOs developing IoT proof-of-concepts, or the CMOs who get to craft digital marketing strategies:

With non-IT roles now controlling many of the most interesting and innovative aspects of corporate IT, and the CIO saddled with a massive portfolio of “utility” technologies that only generate interest when they fail, it begs the question: if no one wants to do this job, is it a role worth keeping? Additionally, the “death” of the CIO role has long been predicted, though it was often due to the role disappearing, rather than the decrease in the number of people interested in filling that role.

Unrealistic Expectations

Many articles and opinion pieces beg and plead (and sometimes advise) the CIO to be the best of both worlds for the business: be the operational keep-the-lights-on guy but be innovative. Understand the technical side but also the financial side. Gray wonders if these expectations are realistic. Can you think of any other executive role that tries to force two disparate activities into a single job description?

The Great Internal Consultant

One approach to this conundrum considers the separation of “church and state” (operations and strategy) into two things that are fundamentally important to the business, but that don’t always need to come in the same package. Gray envisions the CIO as a kind of “internal consultant” for the enterprise, leveraging operational resources to meet business goals.

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