Does the designation of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) only about leading the Information Technology department of an enterprise? Is the executive position of a CIO overlaps the role of an IT Director as well? The answer to that would be – it depends. Yes, the two roles sometimes get blurred across enterprises wherein the CIO is not always the last word in an IT department but is still largely so.

In today’s fast changing digital landscape where staying a step ahead of your competitors means leveraging the best of cutting edge technologies, the role of a CIO becomes very important. The role encompasses a wide swathe of responsibilities including forming strategies to develop or use technology in pursuance of realizing the overall operational and business goals of the enterprise.

What does a CIO bring to the table?

To begin with, a CIO is a top executive role that forms an interface between the IT and other arms of a business. The position of a CIO presents the external side of the highly technical IT department and charts out the vision and roadmap of implementing technology solutions across departments. This is important as applying the right kind of technology would lead to the following outcomes –

  • Increasing the operational efficiency by streamlining workflows
  • Reducing redundancies and breaking of departmental silos
  • Savings on costs, which otherwise would have accrued due to rework or the poor quality of products or services

The CIO, on his or her part, does the following to help the business

  • Develop the technology strategy to meet the overall business goals of an enterprise
  • Formulate strategies for the use of business information in terms of its storage, analysis, and transmission inside and outside the organisation
  • Oversees the adoption or implementation of technology solutions or paradigms such as Cloud Computing, Agile, DevOps, Internet of Things, Big data, or Artificial Intelligence across the business verticals of an organisation
  • Be the guiding force for IT employees and motivate them towards developing innovative and quality technology solutions to enhance user experience and business outcomes
  • Give an overall direction or roadmap to the marketing department on marketing an IT product developed in-house to external customers

Is CIO the last word on IT?

The term CIO is relatively new and has evolved from the early IT head or IT Director. The term has assumed increased salience due to the changing dynamics of today’s business. Even though a CIO is primarily a technical job as it deals with IT, it does not necessarily deal with the day to day functioning of the department. In fact, it is a top management position that mainly deals with the formulation of strategies and less with their technical aspects.

As part of the management team, the CIO brings to the table the strengths or inadequacies of the IT department and impresses upon the powers-that-be to lend budgetary support to the department or to implement technology solutions with a view to streamlining operations. It is the CIO that decides whether the data centres of an organisation should leverage the cloud architecture or implement a cutting edge ERP solution.


The role of a CIO is not always the same across organisations. For even though it is mostly an executive position dealing with the IT department and is mainly about formulating and even implementing strategies, it can often converge with the role of an IT Director. So, the answer to the question – Is a CIO a CIO, the answer would be – it depends – on the organisation.

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