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Vendor View: The CIO juggling act

Vendor View: The CIO juggling act

The evolution of the influence of the CIO is leading to a juggling act; there are now three pairs of roles that a CIO must fulfil in order to drive business forward and continue to maintain operations.

In a fast-moving business environment, how can today's Chief Information Officer (CIO) make the biggest impact on behalf of the entire organisation? Not content to be known just as accomplished IT experts or perpetual seekers of savings, CIOs are redefining their role and progressively influencing at board level.

The voice of the CIO is being heard in new ways -- as CIOs are increasingly recognised as fully-fledged members of the senior executive team. Today's successful CIOs are much more actively engaged in setting strategy, enabling flexibility and change, and solving business problems. The industry is witnessing that increasingly the days of the CIO solving just IT problems are quickly disappearing.

With the majority of businesses in Australia and New Zealand being either small or midsized, and having fewer layers of management complexity, it is no surprise that CIOs from this region are highly involved in business strategy -- more so than their global counterparts. In general the ANZ market is dominated by a high number of medium-sized distribution and industry sector businesses, with 60% of CIOs working in organisations with 1000 to 10,000 employees.

Interestingly, today's CIOs spend an impressive 55 percent of their time on activities that spur innovation. These activities include generating buy-in for innovative plans, implementing new technologies and managing non-technology business issues. The remaining 45 percent is spent on essential, more traditional CIO tasks related to managing the ongoing technology environment. This includes reducing IT costs, mitigating enterprise risks and leveraging automation to reduce costs elsewhere in the business. This proves that today's CIO, whilst focused on the day to day job, are focused on driving business value and continually improving efficiencies and overall business operations. With CIOs becoming more involved in the business they are increasingly forced to juggle a number of different roles.

CIOs universally acknowledge that some of their most important objectives too often seem to clash including, how can we support the introduction of new services while avoiding the disruption of existing services? How can I reduce costs while improving services? How will I balance the need to influence business strategy with the need to provide top-notch IT support?

Complementary or Conflicting Roles?

On any given day, CIOs are poised for the unexpected, leading an organisation that solves a myriad of problems for customers, both internal and external. Without question, IT functions represent the lifeblood of most businesses. But CIOs increasingly find they can only turn more attention to new technology ideas after addressing current IT needs.

Successful CIOs today are actually blending three pairs of roles. These dual roles seem contradictory, but they are actually complementary. At any given time, a CIO is:

  • An Insightful Visionary and an Able Pragmatist

  • A Savvy Value Creator and a Relentless Cost Cutter

  • A Collaborative Business Leader and an Inspiring IT Manager.

By integrating these three pairs of roles, the CIO, drives innovation, raises the ROI of IT and expands business impact

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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