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What's in a title? A CIO/CTO shares perspective on his dual role

What's in a title anyway? In this CIO Snapshot, CareWorks CIO/CTO Bart Murphy talks about what it's like to carry out the dual roles.

Bart Murphy was hired to be the CareWorks Family of Companies vice president of shared services. CareWorks comprises six companies, five in the healthcare space and one -- CareWorks Tech -- in the tech services industry. He was brought in to build a shared services framework and played an integral role in the company's massive insourcing project. (SearchCIO recently spoke to him about his work for a story in our CIO Innovators series.) After an extremely stressful but successful two years spent on insourcing and centralizing IT services, Murphy was promoted to CIO/CTO -- two important roles that are rarely combined. So what's in a title? Murphy talked to SearchCIO about what it's like to carry out that dual role. Let's just say he's a Renaissance man when it comes to IT.

As a CIO/CTO, what are your relationships like in the C-suite?

Bart MurphyBart Murphy, CIO/CTO,
CareWorks Family
of Companies

Bart Murphy: I now report to the CEO. There are four or five chief titles for the family of companies, so I work a lot with them on the strategy and investment for technology for each company. For example, we looked at VocWorks (a provider of field-based case management and vocational rehabilitation) to see what they were lacking in technology and identified it was in need of a cost-effective mobile strategy. That approach was completely different from the one we took with CareWorksUSA (a provider of workers' compensation and disability services), which is growing extremely fast and now has clients in 50 states.

I meet with the CEO regularly and the CFO regularly. We're constantly talking about ways to improve our businesses, and in a lot of cases IT is a strategic component to improving the strength of the business. And we've shown that through our IT delivery as well. We have a lot of IT benchmarks and metrics that have improved based upon collaborations with the business operations team.

What's the advantage of having the CIO and CTO title?

Murphy: I like having the CTO title so people can value IT as innovation versus just operations. But I'm in charge of everything from operations and any technology strategy. In some instances, organizations will have both a CIO and CTO, and the way they distinguish between the two is to say, the CIO really is running operations. The CTO really is working on the strategic plan of how they're going to leverage technology in the future.

Maybe there are organizations large enough to warrant separation of those two activities, but one can't come without the other. If you're going to be thinking about strategic platforms and you don't thoroughly understand operations, you may make some good choices on platforms but poor choices on operations teams. You may not provide the true business case at the end of the day.

Do you prefer one title over the other?

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Murphy: It's funny, I'll go to a conference or something like that and I'll say I'm a CTO and people assume I have no overview or even insight into how IT operations are being run. 'Oh, you don't deal with data center, you don't deal with servers, you don't deal with the helpdesk,' they'll say. And I say, 'Yeah, yeah, I do....' So I just try to make sure people are clear that it's an operations and technology planning role.

I do prefer the CTO title, but then I have to explain to folks that I deal with operations, infrastructure and all that, and I'm not just looking at new, fancy shiny objects and seeing if they'd look good in the organization. You know, on call trees, when anything goes down, ask anyone, I'm probably the first to know.

And you're also the president of CareWorks Tech, CareWorks' IT consulting business, correct?

Murphy: In March of last year, I was put in charge as the president of CareWorks Tech, just to get all IT resources under one leadership team. I do have a background of 15 years in consulting as well. I don't think it was necessarily a planned thing, but when it did occur, it made sense to have all of our IT assets under one leadership group. Some of them may be performing work externally for a client at a bill rate and some of them may be supporting an internal asset.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, Senior Features Writer.

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