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The role of CIO in the IT sector

Aaron Serrhat
The position of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) continues to take the same shape as the industry, one in which it is constantly evolving. It seems there are more people filling the position from less technical backgrounds than in the past.

Previously finance and marketing were together and IT was a separate entity, but now it is becoming the third leg of the business and an important part of driving profit. As IT continues to grow it will form a central part of increasing revenue and managing the costs of the business and will determine how successful a firm turns out to be.

Now the sector is driven by cloud-delivered services, including both software and data, the CIOs profile has changed drastically. Today, they must bridge the divide between marketing reach with mobile applications and market analysis with big data sources and platforms.

The perfect CIO needs an overall and detailed idea of how today’s technology can increase the bottom line of the company, not just reduce costs or improve general productivity.

The past role of the CIO

In the past, particularly around the mid-1980’s, the CIOs role was primarily technical. Gradually storage, analysis and electronic information has become more important to industries of all types not just tech ones. As a result, they have come to be seen as key contributors to creating strategic goals – with some CIO’s now taking seats on executive boards.

Where do they stand now?

As it stands CIOs must now be much more in tune with the company’s general direction than they were a decade ago: they must show flexibility to changing laws and business regulations.

In a 2015 global survey by Gartner Inc, it highlighted positive growth in average IT spend in the UK and Ireland, with CIOs expecting to increase IT budgets by 1.4 % in 2015. 

CIOs will continue to be prominent while businesses place more focus on investing strategically in information and technology to ensure their business continues to grow.

Giving CIOs more strategic responsibility, will more than likely mean them delegating the general day-to-day IT operations to a technology deputy and utilise their team to manage specific areas of the IT department.

According to the survey, leading CIOs will spend less than 40% of their time running the IT organisation, choosing to spend their time with business unit leaders and external customers.

The future

The role has evolved so rapidly and has fundamentally switched from what it initially entailed to one that is now much more business focused, and in turn more demanding. This means that those with the skill sets to adapt to such a shift are in high demand, although this could, in turn, increase recruitment costs and salaries for firms looking to acquire top CIO talent.

According to Kim Nash of CIO, the next two years will see a CIO turn into someone who can inspire staff and maintain relationships with IT suppliers in order to collaborate. As purchasing IT infrastructure services from third parties becomes the norm, CIOs will be freed from a lot of the cost-justifying they do today to prove the worth of each new deal.

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