Today's Chief Information Officer (CIO) plays a vital role in the creation of the firm's strategic plan and in articulating how technology can enable business strategies. Internet; high speed wireless digital connections; media/data convergence; multi-channel connectivity to customers; vast relational databases and analytics have all made the IT function a critical aspect of any firm's success.
The role of a CIO signifies someone who is taking IT beyond the process level to the strategic differentiator or advantage. We live in a rapidly changing world with much of the dynamism driven by continuous advancements in technology from consumer devices to office systems. Change rarely occurs unaccompanied by technology transition of one form or another.
This is a fascinating but also precarious time to be a CIO, particularly one with global responsibilities. CIOs are being given more strategic roles than ever before, yet they're simultaneously seeing their budgets cut while expectations remain unrelenting, and of course the global recession only complicates the situation. It is not surprising that given today’s economic climate which focuses organisations on being sufficiently lean and agile in order to deliver the best products or services to a highly competitive market, that there are few, if any, organisations that do not need well engineered information technology.
CIOs are being asked to drive business change while at the same time many are trying to replace old and inflexible infrastructures with modern and flexible ones. They're being given responsibility for establishing global standards in applications and related processes, but sometimes without the organisational authority to enforce those new standards. We are stretching the competencies of the ideal CIO quite some distance to accommodate this.
Across the globe, CIOs are fighting the stubborn perception that IT in general and CIOs and their teams in particular are cost centers rather than creators of value and accelerators of innovation. According to a survey done by CIO.com on CEO’s perception of CIOs, only 9% believe that their IT teams are seen and used as a business game changer. Companies that exclude their IT leadership from this process, or do not have CIOs with the ability to participate at least equally with peers, are tempting their fates.
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