The Non-IT CIO: Information Over Infrastructure

Verging on a fifth of CIOs are now coming from non-IT backgrounds. Until very recently, this could be said of only a single-digit percentage of CIOs. In an article for InformationWeek, James M. Connolly takes the position that this number is only going to continue ballooning for the foreseeable future.

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Connolly identifies two reasons why the change in CIO origin story is occurring. First, more line of business managers have already made technology utilization a big aspect of growing their careers. And second, many IT leaders’ attention spans have been driven away from the real spirit of the CIO role for various reasons.

Here is how Connolly describes how the CIO role originally was:

While a lot of the job involved the mainframe-style technology that sat behind IT’s glass walls, it didn’t stop there. We were discovering how PCs changed the business and, later, the customer. Often the CIO inherited previously-independent groups who were responsible for telephone, fax, and printing, even paper processes. Eventually, mobile computing and web matters also landed on the CIO’s desk. That made sense because all of those functions were about information.

Then a schism of thought occurred. Some CIOs got too concerned with managing “bits and bytes,” and other CIOs became too enraptured with the possibilities of new technology and forgot about business needs. A middle ground of thought has been difficult to preserve among existing IT leaders, and many of the existing CIOs have become so entrenched in the “bits and bytes” aspect that they cannot imagine how to support the business in innovative avenues. Yet because of changing times, up and coming leaders have a better grasp on technology in general than managers of old, making it not impossible for them to step into the CIO role. But they come to the role with fresh eyes, and an understanding of “business first.”

For a further discussion, you can view the original article here:

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