What is a CIO? – The CIO role in 2022

CIO stands for Chief Information Officer. It’s a role that was first defined in 1981 and arguably a role that has developed significantly since that time. So what is a CIO and how has the CIO role changed for 2022?

What is a CIO?

The definition of a CIO from the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) says “A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is a senior business executive who is responsible for the strategic planning and leadership of the information systems of their company.” Typically they report to the Chief Executive Officer. 

In the early days of computing, a CIO would have had some responsibility for the procurement of computing hardware and software, as well as making sure that systems were maintained. But nowadays, a modern-day CIO is expected to be an enabler and facilitator.

A CIO today must enable technology to meet business objectives and expectations. In other words, the CIO should be seen as an integral part of a company’s success, rather than a technical expert.

What does a CIO do?

In the end, what a CIO does comes down to three things;

  1. Ensuring that the technology infrastructure of a company is up-to-date and fit for purpose
  2. Creating a culture in which all staff can work effectively using information technology (IT)
  3. Providing strategic leadership and guidance to help ensure IT continues to deliver benefits for business and to achieve the businesses overall goals.

A summary of some of a CIO’s responsibilities according to a number of online job descriptions found responsibilities listed such as:

  • Overseeing the technological infrastructure of the business
  • Keeping up to date with technological advancements and threats to the business to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Setting the strategy and business-wide objectives for IT
  • Streamline operations through the use of suitable technology
  • Improve the customers experience through the design and implementation of suitable technology
  • Provide training for all staff within the business on new technological systems
  • Responsible for overseeing and assessing the technology budget, approving purchases and software
  • In charge of leading all IT related projects
Cost optimisation
Leading Sustainability

Does a CIO need a background in technology?

Not necessarily. A good understanding of the different technologies used in business and being in an IT leadership role is often a basic requirement.

In our interviews with current CIO’s who are leaders in their field, some of the feedback on what they considered to be skills that future leaders will need in order to thrive included:

  • Empathy and social intelligence
  • Diplomacy
  • Ability to deliver simplicity from complexity
  • Business and commercials skills to fully understand the organisation’s requirements
  • Learning from peers/mentors
  • Understanding of digital and data
  • Ability to move fast in the dynamic technological landscape
  • Ability to see the bigger picture

What makes a modern CIO?

Technology plays a pivotal role in almost all organisations. It is now
possible for almost anyone within a company to create their own
recipe for success using technology, that requires very little
technical knowledge, that creates a significant impact in
a positive way.

Now more than ever, a CIO needs to demonstrate how relevant they are to a business.

Through our extensive knowledge in the technology industry, we have put together what we believe are the 5 key traits that all CIO’s need, or those looking to become future CIOs, in order to become truly impactful leaders. Whether you are applying for a CIO role, or are looking at how you can enhance your skills to stand out, this guide will give you everything you need to know to become a modern CIO in 2022.

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