The CIO of the Future

The CIO of the Future

Veteran CIOs provide advice on how to take your job — and the contribution IT makes to your company — to the next level

You wouldn't expect a traditional CIO to manage the process of, say, opening 10,000 seasonal locations and hiring 100,000 seasonal employees, and then be asked by the CEO to run a line of business in addition to the IT function. Nor is it typical for a CIO to routinely work with business leaders to clarify their strategy and translate it into action, and then be asked by the CEO to manage business strategy worldwide. But this is what happened to us last year at H&R Block and Chevron Global Downstream, respectively.

We aren't unique in seeing our roles evolve and take on a broader, more business-oriented and strategic focus. We believe that this is the future state of the CIO role, which in time will become the mandate for most CIOs at most businesses.

Strategic CIOs look at the company from the outside in and ask: How is the company perceived by customers?

What distinguishes a strategic, or "future-state", CIO? Fundamentally, the CIO role encompasses three aspects: the function head (focused on operations), the transformational leader (focused on alignment, enablement and process change) and the business strategist. The strategist targets how a company creates shareholder value and serves its customers. The strategic CIO is a business leader who happens to use technology as the core tool to create competitive advantage. CIOs who primarily have an operations or transformational role look at a company from the inside out — starting with how they operate and then looking out to the customer. Strategic CIOs look at the company from the outside in and ask: How is the company perceived by customers? What is the technology platform our competitors are using to compete against us?

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