The role of the CIO is changing… but CIOs are struggling to change

19 Oct

In a piece by oconnormatty7, he asks the following question “Could the role of the CIO be changing?”

The answer is Yes. The role of the CIO is changing and has always been changing since it’s very inception. As far back as 1981 Ives and Olsen were arguing this using a very simple analogy of “Ralph” (a fictional manager) to illustrate their case. Ralph begins his career in 1958 as a draftsman and is then transferred to data processing – designing card board systems and wired boards. By 1965 Ralph is required to oversee the running of this system and by 1972 he is manager of MIS (what we now refer to as the CIO). In 1976 Ralph is fired “when a major system exceeds time and cost estimates”!

With the onset of the information age and consequently the growth of technologies in the workplace – the role of the CIO is now unrecognisable to the one encountered by Ives and Olsen in 1981.

Perhaps the real question that needs to be asked is not if the role of the CIO is changing – but rather is it changing quickly enough to meet the demands of the modern business organisation? CIOs are no longer confined to managing an organisation’s technology base, they are now involved in driving innovation and development within a company.

Therein lies the issue for the modern CIO. Mark and Monnoyer (2004) acutely sum up this new challenge as to “find ways for IT to change the company, not just run it”. However it is generally accepted that CIOs are struggling to fulfill this new agenda.

A variety of reasons have been advanced to support this argument – chief among them being that many CIOs lack the necessary leadership skills required to aide the growth of organisations in the area of IT. Other “typical” CIO deficiencies include poor strategic awareness and communication skills.

It is clear that these problems need to be surmounted quickly if CIOs are to keep apace with changes in the ever evolving modern-day business organisation. The question is how will they overcome these problems? Or moreover, are these problems a failure of the CIO or the modern-day business organisation?

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