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ChiefInformationOfficerJobDescription

Tosaythattechnologyhasbecomeapartofoureverydaylivesistostatetheobviousfromcell
phonestocars,thereislittlethatisnotinfluencedby,orutilizestechnologyinsomeway.
Thisinfluenceisallthemoreapparentinthebusinessrealmwheretechnologynowformsthecoreof
everyenterprisesfundamentalstructure.Itmanagesandmediateseverythingfrominterandintra
organizationcommunicationtoemployeemanagementandfinance.Inthiscontext,theroleofthe
ChiefInformationOfficer(CIO)thepersonresponsibleforacompanystechnologicaldirection
hasbecomeallthemoreimportant.
will give
you a
detailed

Information

Below
overview
of a Chief
Officers
roles and responsibilities.

What is a Chief
Officer
(CIO)?
Information



As stated above, the Chief Information Officer is the person responsible for controlling the
technological
of a company.
resources

This covers a wide swathe of responsibilities, considering how

is so inextricable

linked to business

processes

CIO may
technology
in the modern enterprise.
The

find himself managing


everything
from an organizations
communication
systems to taking
decisions
broader IT direction.

on the companys

A Brief
History
of
the
CIO


Compared to the CEO or CFO, the CIO is a relatively recent addition to the executive hierarchy. The

of this role
date

back to the mid1950s when computing entered the workplace. Computers


origins
simple

tools
meant
to process
data and
automate

functions

back then were


certain
infinance and
The
person

responsible
for managing

Director of
accounting.
these
processes
was generally
called

As computers

responsibilities

DataProcessing.
became
more sophisticated,
this persons
expanded
1970s,

person responsible

enterprises

generally

as well. By the
the
for an
computing
resources
was

Information
Systems

called Director of Management


(MIS).

By the 1980s, computers


had become
important
enough
in business processes for the Director of

Management Information Systems to be part of the CEOs strategic decisionmaking processes,


with

Clevel executives

this increased

came

along
other
(CFO,
COO, etc.). With
importance
another
Information
Officer.

change in title to the Chief

The first CIO


in
America
was
Al
Zipf
of
Bank
of
America.
Zipf
was
widely
credited
with
the
creating
the

first large scale general purpose computing system for the banking industry. Called ERMA

Recording

of Accounting

this
system
had
a dramatic

effect on
banking
efficiency.

Electronic
Method
led to even
greater
adoption
of technology

range of industries,
underscoring

the
It also
in a wide
of the CIO.

importance

In the ensuing
years,
the
CIO
came
to
be
recognized
as
an
indispensable
part
of
any
CEOs

executiveteam.ItisraretofindasuccessfulbusinessthatdoesnothaveaCIOmanaging
technologybehindthescenes.
DifferencesBetween CIOand CTO
Onpaper,theCIOandCTO(ChiefTechnologyOfficer)appearlargelysimilarbothareClevel
executivesinvolvedintechnologicalprocesses.BothreporttoeithertheCEOortheCFO/COO.Both
haveassumedevergreaterresponsibilitiesinthelastdecade.
Inpractice,however,theCIOandCTOhaveverydifferentfunctionswithinacompany.Thechief
responsibilityofaCTOistodevelopnewtechnologies.Youcanthinkofherasthearchitectofthe
companystechnologyvision.Inthisrole,theCTOdealswithhardengineeringchallengesand
directsthedevelopmentofnewtechnologytofurtherthebusinessrevenues.
ThejoboftheCIO,ontheotherhand,istoimplementexistingtechnologiestofurtherthebusiness
strategicgoals.TheCIOwillrarelybeinvolvedindevelopingnewtechnologies.Instead,shewillwork
withateamofITprofessionalsandengineerstocreatesystemsandprocessesthatmakeoptimum
useofcurrenttechnologicalresourcestomeetbusinessneeds.
AnotherdifferencebetweenCIOandCTOistheireducationalbackground.CIOstendtobe
technicallycompetentpeoplewithsomegroundinginbusinessfundamentals.AtypicalCIOwillhave
anengineeringeducationplussomeMBAlevelbusinesseducation.
CTOs,ontheotherhand,tendtobeengineersandscientists.ThetypicalCTOwilllikelyhave
extensiveformaleducationinengineeringorrelatedfields.ItisnotuncommontofindCTOswith
PhDsaswell.
Thisdistinctionisnotquiteaswatertightasitusedtobeadecadeearlier.MoreandmoreCIOs
handletheresponsibilitiesofCTOs,andviceversa.CompaniesmightalsohaveaSVPlevelposition
fortheCIOiftheyalreadyhaveaCTO.
Responsibilities

of a CIO

Roles and

By now, you should have a fair idea of the roles and responsibilities of a Chief Information Officer.


The actual responsibilities of the CIO will vary from company to company and industry to industry, but

for the most part, she can be expected to:

Analyze

current
technology

a companys
infrastructure and align it with the business strategic

plans.

Develop a communication system for the company, including network infrastructure, wide area

connectivity, etc.

Work closely with project managers to ensure optimum allocation and utilization of technology

resources.


Supervise and recruit technology staff.
Ensure that the companys IT operations adhere to local laws.

EnsurethesecurityofthebusinessITassets.Thisisaparticularlyproblematicsituationfor
businessesinlightoftherecentspateofhackerattacks.
WorkcloselywithotherClevelexecutivestocreatestrategicplansforthebusinessfuturegrowth.
EstablishtheITdepartmentsoperativegoalsandobjectives.
WorkwiththeCTO(ifany)todevelopandimplementnewtechnologies.
Inessence,astheCIO,youwillberesponsibleforeveryfacetofthecompanysITinfrastructureand
othertechnologyresources.YouwillworkverycloselywithotherClevelexecutivesandwillbe
directlyinvolvedinoutliningandachievingthecompanysstrategicgoals.
TheCIOCareerPath
AnyeffectiveCIOmusthavethefollowingthreecharacteristics:
Asolidunderstandingoftechnology
Deepknowledgeofbusinessprinciples
Extensiveexperienceworkingintechnologyand/orbusinessroleswithinacompany.
ThetechnologicaldemandsofthejobmeanthattheCIOwillusuallyhaveabackgroundin
technology.MostCIOswillhaveadegreeinscienceorengineeringsomewillevenhaveMasters
andPhDs.
BecausetheCIOdealswiththeimplementationsideoftechnology,shemustalsohaveathorough
understandingofbusinessprinciples.ItisnotuncommonformostCIOstodaytohaveanMBAor
equivalentdegreeaswell.WithCTOsoftenhandlingthehardcoretechissuesofabusiness,more
andmoreCIOsarecomingfromatech+businessbackground,comparedtoahardcoretech
backgroundearlier.
AnyaspiringCIO,thus,mustseektomajorinanengineeringorrelatedsciencefieldincollege,
followedeitherbyaMBA,Masters,orequivalentworkexperienceinacompetitivefirm.Forexample,
formerCocaColaCIOJeanMichelAresholdsaBachelorsandMastersdegreeinElectrical
Engineering,aswellasaMBA.
Ofcourse,CIOscancomefromdifferentbackgroundsaswell.VivekKundra,thefirstCIOofthe
UnitedStates,holdsanundergraduatedegreeinpsychologyandaMastersdegreefromthe
SorensenInstituteforPoliticalLeadership.
ThepositionoftheCIOisveryflexibleandaccommodating.Companiesespeciallyyoungertech
startupsarenotshyofhiringpeoplewithoutformalqualificationsintechnologyand/orbusinessas
longastheyhaveplentyofhandsonexperience.