The CIO: We Hardly Know Ye

Inevitably, you get the gist of the CIO role already. But if you are not actively working in that role every day, then there are nuances to the position you might not see. In an article for ZDNet, Mark Samuels provides a primer on everything there is to know about being a CIO.

The Truth of the Role

The CIO is the “most senior technology executive” in the organization, and the CIO’s role is to define and lead technology strategy in conjunction with other senior executives. CIOs differ from IT directors in that CIO vision should encompass moves that involve the greater business, whereas IT directors typically focus on daily IT operations. Often, CTOs too will report to the CIO, but sometimes not. In the most traditional context, CTOs seek out innovative technology applications to enable better business, but in practice, there is overlap in where CIO roles end CTO roles begin.

To whom do CIOs themselves report though? The answer is complicated:

Consultant Deloitte found 33 percent of CIOs report to the CEO, 22 percent to the CFO, 11 percent to the COO and nine percent to a global CIO, with the rest in a myriad of complex reporting structures. Dotted lines are not uncommon: CIOs will often report into a couple of executives, depending on internal lines of communication and ongoing initiatives.

There is a common, perhaps misguided, belief that IT leaders should always report to the CEO. While reporting to the CEO helps keep the role of technology front and centre, reporting to the CFO can also help ensure IT budgets are clearly defined and understood – and in some organisations, cost control remains the absolute top priority.

This is just the beginning of the long and nuanced CIO conversation. For a longer explanation of what goes into being CIO, you can view the full primer here:

John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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