Role of CIO in IT Strategy
We all understand how information technology is significant for every business to survive in the marketplace and take steps towards growth. Gradually, as the role of technology for a business has advanced, similarly, the role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) has also evolved from a technology enabler to an IT strategist. Businesses must understand the role that CIOs play in IT strategy.
However, first, we need to find answers to the questions such as: who is a CIO? What role he or she plays in the organization? What difference does a CIO bring to a business that leads to its growth? How has the shift happened from an enabler to a strategist? We will answer all these questions in this article. For every question you have regarding a CIO’s participation in facilitating the IT strategy of a business, read below to get your answers.
Definition of CIO
A CIO is a senior officer position in an organization responsible for developing, implementing, and leading the IT strategy. Sometimes the positions of CIO and CTO are used interchangeably, while it may differ in some organizations. Generally, CIO is responsible for devising the IT strategy in a way that achieves the overall business objectives. On the other hand, CTO provides support to the CIO in terms of identifying the innovative technologies that can make up the IT strategy. In some businesses, a CTO heads the technology development space while the CIOs handle the execution of technological advancements in the organization. Whatever the case be, the lines are blurred between these two positions.
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Roles and responsibilities of a CIO
The contribution of a CIO is not limited to developing and implementing the IT strategy. It includes the performance of the following roles and responsibilities that drive the business to new heights of success:
For making any changes related to IT, a CIO is required to study the business inside and out through interactions with various stakeholders to know their expectations. Once they understand the deepest concerns and realities of every business function, only then they contribute better to develop an IT strategy encompassing benefits for all. With such in-depth knowledge of the business implications of IT, they are able to take up initiatives that generate an income stream and drive business value. Additionally, CIOs become aware of the customer expectations that matter to every function and overall business. Hence, their IT strategy and related decisions become accountable to customers and other stakeholders’ needs, thereby becoming the leader a business is looking for.
CIOs ensure that they study the existing IT capabilities of a business and a future desired situation, and based on the gaps, charter an IT strategy to reach the desired state. The desired state may be very different from the current IT state, which will require a complete transformation, or it may just be an enhancement from a transactional role to a strategic role. Based on the change required, the CIO will focus on either achieving operational efficiency or making the right IT investments that can lead to high returns in the future. Nevertheless, while doing this, they have to make sure that IT and other business functions collaborate to achieve the desired business outcomes.
A CIO does not only look for opportunities for using emerging technologies in the business but also strives to harness the technologies to create innovative revenue streams for the business. These innovative streams may include developing new products, new services, or new implications – whatever is required to take the IT expertise forward. The new implications include exploring the use of IT for domains such as supply chain, finance, customer service, data analytics, operations, marketing, and decision-making. It leads to blurred lines of division between the IT-specific role and innovator for the business that can drive the change for good.
With the CIO playing the role of a leader, change agent, risk manager, and innovator, information technology has taken the driver’s seat. However, this was not the case earlier; it is a gradual transformation in the role of a CIO, all thanks to the transformations in the information technology sector. These transformations in IT and IT strategy have led to the development of next-generation business capabilities and an innovative mindset that ensures enhanced customer experiences and higher productivity. Now, we look into the shift of the role of CIO from an enabler to an IT strategist.
The shift from enabler to IT strategist
The key ingredient to a robust IT strategy is its alignment with the overall business strategy. It does not just include identifying the new technologies, understanding their implications for the business, and making deals with suppliers for implementation. It also comprises the important part of identifying the new opportunities for business that can be created with the emerging technologies and the threats that may affect the business journey.
This thought process during the development of IT strategy brings the necessary shift in the CIO’s role from being just a technology enabler to an IT strategist. This shift has happened because of the mushrooming influence of social media, e-commerce, and smartphones that have made IT innovation a prerequisite for business success. The process of digital transformation evolved the role of IT in a business from just a support system to other business functions to become a strong pillar for business growth.
Hence, IT strategy has become a part of everyday processes and not just a value addition to other functions or activities. The IT team in an organization focuses on integrating the use of IT for the betterment of all business functions to strengthen the overall business operations. This leads to a rise in innovative uses of IT, the development of new business models, and new-found implications for revenue-generating activities.
Businesses must understand the importance of a CIO to the IT strategy and its implications on the business strategy. It is the CIOs who have to ensure to incorporate the principles of operational excellence, value generation, and continuous improvement in all business processes since the growth of information technology stands by these principles.
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