Chief Executive Officer. Chief Operating Officer. Chief Financial Officer. Chief Information Officer? Information? I have always questioned that word (information) in the title. How does one manage information? Information is something you use and generally speaking, cannot be managed. And here lies the problem with the title. What is the strategic value of the position of CIO? If the role of CIO is to have executive ownership of information, doesn’t this role come into direct conflict with the roles of COO and CFO?
Will a CFO handover control of financial information to get it from the CIO? Or will the COO give up operational data to get it from the CIO? I don’t think so! Every C-level executive with executive responsibility demands ownership control of the information supporting them and will use this information accordingly to make appropriate business decisions. This is the fundamental problem of where in the executive structure does the CIO fit? What strategic value can the CIO bring in the boardroom?
So then what is the real strategic value of the position of CIO? If the position cannot have oversight of all information then what is the role of the CIO. The answer is “integration”.
As Chief “Integration” Officer, the CIO’s role can focus on integrating and improving process and workflow. It is only by linking different systems to streamline business process workflow and by assuming responsibility for identifying and removing bottlenecks in the chain can the function of the CIO provide real strategic value to overall business operations. The CIO now becomes the primary integrator across the firm.
The role of CIO must move away from being just the head tech guy to having a more strategic role in a company’s operations. It is only by having a more strategic role can the position of CIO provide real value.