Let's face it the CIO job is tough -- in fact, one of the toughest jobs around.
It's also quite important. Not only are CIOs responsible for investing enormous amounts of their companies' money in complex and tricky products that require technical expertise and change management skills to implement, but they also have to understand their companies' business, market and competitors as well as anyone in the organisation. In that respect, no other function executive must perform a comparable juggling act.
The role of successful and highly valued CIO is not defined by information or technology alone, although both are essential to building a thriving business.
Certainly these are key functions of the CIO; however, they should be viewed in context as a means to an end. Today, forward-thinking companies want business enablers -- partners -- not obstacles.
As a member of the senior management team, the CIO must focus on the desired outcomes of the business. That means first and foremost a highly effective business person, with a keen perspective and understanding of the company's external and internal forces (customers, employees, investors, partners, suppliers and the competition). With that knowledge, the CIO can appropriately apply technology and information management techniques to achieve the organisation's objectives.
An effective CIO forms a partnership with management to create alignment between the objectives of the IT organisation and the business and shared accountability to the company's success. In doing this, the CIO must have the insight to recognise the organisation's ability to absorb change. This is especially important as more and more CIOs balance their companies' abilities to change with the imperative to lead the business toward solutions and approaches which establish a sustainable competitive advantage.
To simultaneously implement new business solutions and increase business growth, the CIO must be a change leader. Communicating new technology and information strategies and advantages to the company before change is implemented is essential for a smooth transition to new processes.
Should the CIO focus on both information and technology? Absolutely. Yet the role of today's CIO is multifaceted. The successful CIO must not focus narrowly on just technology and information management. The CIO of today is a strategist, a partner of the senior management team and a change leader.
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