An enterprise guide to CIO roles and responsibilities

Guide to CIO roles and responsibilities

Learn how the CIO's roles and responsibilities have expanded and evolved in the past year.

As with most dictionary definitions, this one for chief information officer (CIO) is pretty laconic: "A job title commonly given to the person in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals." Today, this description hardly begins to cover the complexity of the enterprise CIO's roles and responsibilities. The term CIO dates from the era of the mainframe, before client/server, the Internet or any of the communications capabilities and devices that are now considered a given in the consumer market and have found their way into the enterprise. Every one of these new technical capabilities and devices has become the responsibility of the CIO, altering and expanding CIO roles and responsibilities.

This guide provides an overview of the current status of enterprise CIOs' roles and responsibilities, IT salaries, technology budgets and spending, and IT staff development.

This guide is part of’s CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics.

Table of contents:

Career considerations, from a CIO

In my quiet moments (whenever I have them), I ponder the evolving role of IT. Right now, I believe, we are on the brink of massive changes to that role. CIOs looking to solidify their career track would be wise to recognize that the current trend toward IT specialization puts business process management, or BPM, skills at an all-time premium.

The fact is that these days it's possible for most enterprises to get a whole host of IT services from specialized providers, not from their traditional IT organization.

Read more from CIO Niel Nickolaisen in "CIO career track favors process management, IT specialization chops.”

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Navigating change in the CIO role

CIO Michael Saitow can't divulge the details of his biggest challenge in 2012. Suffice it to say, he's embarking on a major project at M.S. Walker Inc., a Somerville, Mass.-based wine and liquor distribution business. What he can say with certainty is that the toughest part of the project will be finding the right change management strategy.

"I spend half my time working on projects, and half my time trying to figure out how you get people to buy in on these projects," Saitow said.

M.S. Walker will produce more than 1 million cases of spirits in 2012. The 80-year-old company does business in more than 30 states and has offices throughout the Northeast. So, what is the challenge for Saitow on IT projects big and small? "How do you make sure that you have done enough research to know what your end community's requirements, expectations and wants are? So that when you are ready to make the change, it is as easy and painless for them as possible -- and even exciting," he said.

Learn more in "CIO's change management strategy gives left and right brain their due.”

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CIO responsibilities in IT brokering and budgets

When Abdullah Haydar stepped into the role of chief technology officer at Open Dealer Exchange LLC two years ago, he surveyed the IT landscape of the Troy, Mich.-based automobile finance company and saw an opportunity.

He would refashion his department into a lean, agile group that facilitated and managed the use of external cloud services and internal offerings as a cohesive services organization.

Analysts call this setup "hybrid IT" or the "IT services broker" model. An increasing number of CIOs see it as a strategy that just makes sense.

Read more in "Outlook 2012: IT looking out for the business in services broker role."

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The CIO's role in IT staff development

IT organizations and their underlying IT skill sets face a fundamental change in their roles and sources of value. That’s the conclusion of The Corporate Executive Board Co.'s research report, "The Future of Corporate IT," which surveyed executives at 127 enterprise organizations.

It looks in depth at each driver of change, but to summarize the results: Information management will gain in importance relative to process automation, and IT will deliver end-to-end services and transform itself into a multifunctional services group.

Learn more in "Evolving IT skill sets: Seven roles that should be on CIOs' radar.”

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Quiz: Are you on the CIO career path to success?

IT executives looking to fine-tune their CIO career path in 2011 witnessed a continued evolution in their roles and responsibilities. Technology innovation was at the forefront of the most successful CIO efforts, with business process management and people skills also leading the way.

Did you pay attention to the factors that put CIO careers on the path to success this past year, and are you ready for similar leadership opportunities in the coming year? Find out by taking our quiz.

Test your CIO career smarts