In search of the super CIO

lan623 in search of the super cioThe names differ — CIO 2.0, Super CIO — but the message is the same: the role of the CIO is becoming increasingly important and CIOs are now serious candidates for CEO roles.

Computer Weekly, revealing “exclusive research from Deloitte on the changing role of the CIO,” reported: “CIOs have the opportunity to reach for the CEO role if they can hone their leadership skills.”

It cited the findings from a Deloitte survey of 1200 “technology leaders” in 43 countries, which “showed that CIOs have the opportunity to drive business strategy in a way that has not been possible before,” because “technology now underpins every business, and chief executives are increasingly focussed on how they can use technology to drive their business.”

The Future CIO was the title of a special report published by UK newspaper The Times on 26 May 2016. There the idea of CIO 2.0 makes an appearance, in an article from Michael Cugemos, CIO of UK IT company, Insight UK. He says: “It should come as no surprise that today’s CIOs are becoming vastly different to their predecessors. Taking heed of the challenges laid bare, many have begun to remodel their role to once again become a heard voice in the boardroom debate.  Say hello to the CIO 2.0.”

However, the term CIO 2.0 is not his, nor is it even new. The earliest reference we could find dates from 2009, in an academic paper entitled, CIO 2.0: Reshaping the CIO Role in an Enterprise 2.0 Environment, from the Mitre Corporation, a not-for-profit organisation that operates research and development centres sponsored by the US Federal Government.

As an academic publication it probably did not gain wide readership in the IT community, which is unfortunate because it was saying six years ago exactly the same things that this year’s Deloitte survey, The Times and numerous other commentators are now saying. Here’s how the paper’s abstract sums up the contents:

“The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is in the midst of a transformation as the perfect storm of economic, political, organisational and technological factors are coming together to shape the business focus of organisations as well as the technology solutions used to manage and govern that business.

In this volatile and uncertain environment, today’s CIO is facing many challenges: being agile and responsive, reducing resource requirements for operations and growth, providing the best service to support the mission, reducing the operating cost structure of the IT enterprise, achieving scale operations in the enterprise, enhancing performance of people products and services, improving transparency, enhancing reporting chains and benefit realisation, and balancing the competing demands of many stakeholders.”

The aim of the paper was very specific: to help the CIO of the government department sponsoring it to “define the vision, strategy and resources to build the future IT enterprise for a very large Department of Defense community.”

And its conclusion is just as valid today. “The CIO plays a crucial role in leading the enterprise to accomplishing or exceeding its business goals. To maximise business success given limited resources it is important that the CIO clarify enterprise business objectives, and define an enterprise strategy for the organisation to meet those objectives.”

However, while The Times and Computer Weekly examinations discuss at length a wide gamut of new skills that a CIO 2.0 will need the conclusions of the Mitre paper are rather more specific. “CIOs are in the midst of a collaboration transformation: successful communities collaborate and work interactively; generation-Y’s are driving much of this transformation.”

It advices CIOs to develop a strategic enterprise plan that allows them to think globally while acting locally; to build applications to share data; that measurement is key, and, as part of that measurement regime, to rethink traditional analytics to accommodate social networking.

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