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Careers in information technology: A CIO guide to getting ahead in IT

In this CIO Essential Guide, learn how CIOs in high-level careers in information technology are driving their enterprises -- and their profession -- forward.


By definition, CIO is a job title generally given to the enterprise executive responsible for developing IT systems that support larger enterprise goals. As these systems and services are increasingly linked to business success, CIOs are earning their seat in the C-suite, coming to be viewed as key contributors in framing strategic business objectives.

But the pace of change in technology infrastructure and services can complicate, even  blur, the responsibilities of the CIO, adding a level of uncertainty to what's needed to succeed in high-level information technology careers. This tension has become evident in SearchCIO's ongoing CIO careers coverage and was reinforced by TechTarget's recent IT Salary and Careers Survey.

In this guide, learn what the future has in store for careers in information technology and, specifically, the evolving role of the CIO. The news, tips, videos and expert advice will guide you on a path to better IT management, describing the technologies and strategies you should be employing to get -- and stay -- ahead.

This CIO Essential Guide on careers in information technology is part of the CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics.

1The CIO role-

What's in a title, anyway?

To achieve a successful career in information technology, CIOs' strategic focus must continuously adapt as new technologies enter the IT equation. But CIOs are facing pressures beyond analysis paralysis of technology. Evolving enterprise roles such as chief digital officer, chief data officer and chief experience officer are cropping up in the workplace, potentially leaving CIOs questioning their own role, value and worth. The following stories and tips shed light on the CIO job description in the past, present and future.


CIOs give customers what they want, then eat their own dog food

Every six months, SearchCIO Editorial Director Christina Torode takes a look at CIO want ads to identify shifts in desired skill sets. In the past year or so, there has been a noticeable surge in posters seeking IT executives with insight into what customers want and need. Continue Reading


Leadership qualities of a CIO who's been around the block

According to Jim Nobel, chairman of last year's World BPO/ITO Forum, the business process and IT outsourcing world is undergoing a "sea change." Read Nobel's tips for becoming a technology enabler, thinking on your feet and bringing street smarts to the enterprise. Continue Reading


How much weight will the CIO title hold in the future?

How important is labeling the enterprise IT strategic leader the "CIO"? In an executive panel at the American Society of Association Executives Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., six IT leaders weigh in on the need for the CIO title and importance of fostering a CEO/CIO relationship. Continue Reading


Digital disruption disturbs more than just IT projects

As project focuses change with digital disruption, the competitive context for enterprise leadership teams shifts towards lean, dynamic and adaptable networks of innovators. It's a pivotal time for CIOs to jump in lest they be stuck in the shadows, says Forrester Research VP and principal analyst Nigel Fenwick. Continue Reading


CIOs take notice of Bill Gates' new role at Microsoft

A big shift in Microsoft's leadership dynamic has everyone in technology talking -- and CIOs should take notice. With the appointment of new CEO Satya Nadella and Bill Gates assuming a new advisory role, it's likely huge changes are on the way. Continue Reading


Expert tips for excelling as CIO

In these videos from SearchCIO's archives, IT experts and thriving technology executives share valuable career advice for CIOs.


Build a diverse IT team with a supportive culture

Royal Philips Electronics has much more to offer the IT industry than revolutionary grooming products and high-tech televisions. Maridan Harris, the company's vice president of IT, tells CIOs how to build a diverse, dynamic IT team to propel the company forward.


Succeed in IT with these not-so-common career tips

If you're not making people mad or breaking things, then you're not doing it right. Sounds risky? That's the point. Absorb this and other unconventional career advice from a group of IT executives at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.


Keep your job by aligning IT with business operations

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals CIO Georgia Papathomas has her head wrapped around business strategy and its alignment with IT. In this video interview, Papathomas talks to us about how to be a successful CIO by driving innovation and managing expectations.


Business and IT must walk hand-in-hand

In this interview, Ina Kamenz, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.'s vice president and CIO, stresses the importance of fostering a relationship between business and IT to deliver success for CIOs and their organizations.

3CIOs on the job-

Innovating, transforming and driving IT toward success

Fulfilling basic job requirements is important, but in order to really flourish in the role, CIOs must be innovative and transformative leaders. In the following SearchCIO stories and tips, learn how real-life CIOs are integrating new technologies and upping their leadership quotient in order to stay in the top job and keep their organization relevant.


CIO of the U.N. shares secrets for becoming a transformational leader

Which side of the CIO brain should be doing all of the thinking? For United Nations CIO Atefeh "Atti" Riazi, it's a matter of thinking with the more creative side of the brain -- and being a little paranoid. Continue Reading


Allstate's advice for communicating vision and polishing leadership skills

What does it take to get ahead at a large company? Patricia Coffey, senior vice president of technology and operations at Allstate Insurance Co. shares leadership skills she's learned throughout her career in information technology. Continue Reading


CIO quest for talent starts with employee performance monitoring

Tensions can mount as CIOs pursue skilled IT folks with the right mix of talent -- a quest becoming more urgent as new technologies enter the workplace. In this CIO Snapshot feature, four leaders advise CIOs where to get started. Continue Reading


Talk the language of business to revive the role of IT

According to J&J CIO Georgia Papathomas, one of the biggest challenges she faces is getting IT to abandon techie talk when speaking to non-IT executives. A group of panelists at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium discuss shrinking the gap between business and IT. Continue Reading


Transform IT and make service management fun

Bart Murphy came to CareWorks Family with a mission to build a shared services strategy that would make IT -- dare we say it? -- fun. In doing so, he transformed the IT organization and become CareWorks' CIO/CTO. Continue Reading


Career terms to know as a CIO

Do you know exactly what it takes to maintain a long, successful career in IT? Make sure you have a handle on these terms before applying for that promotion.

5CIO career trends-

Compensation, optimism and technology priorities

TechTarget's recent IT Salary and Careers Survey indicated that CIOs are making more money (especially at larger companies), feeling optimistic about the road ahead (as long as management is on board with their IT priorities) and pursuing project priorities around bring your own device (but outsourcing is falling out of favor). Read these survey stories to understand the CIO mood right now.


Infographic highlights salary expectations, projects and mood in IT

This colorful and engaging infographic recaps the results of the IT Salary and Careers Survey, spotlighting salary trends across industries and expectations for the future of careers in information technology. Continue Reading


Cloud IT hovers over CIO career paths

Driven by the transfer of infrastructure, apps and data to the cloud, our survey participants believe IT leadership careers are due for significant change. Good or bad change? CIOs might have to wait and see how things pan out. Continue Reading


Great expectations: CIO compensation on the rise

Fifty-seven percent of the 464 senior IT leaders represented in the IT Salaries and Careers Survey experienced a total compensation increase in 2013. With gains like that, the future must be bright for the CIO -- right? Continue Reading


Culture of innovation inspires senior IT and keeps execs smiling

For senior IT executives, 2013 was a glass-half-full kind of year. A number of factors inspired optimism within IT organizations including a drive for innovation that keeps employees motivated, challenged and engaged. Continue Reading


IT priorities: What's in, what's out in 2014

See those employees toting their smartphones and tablets into the workplace? Yeah, as the CIO, that's your problem. As such, a lot of CIOs are prioritizing bring your own device (BYOD) programs this year, while putting less emphasis on past outsourcing efforts. Continue Reading


Careers in information technology: How to get ahead

Careers in information technology are a hot field, but pulling down a position -- especially a high-level position like CIO -- isn't easy. As project priorities shift and new "must-have" skill sets emerge, your role, and with it your compensation, might be in flux. How can IT professionals climb to the top of the technology ladder? Take this quiz and find out.

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