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The 21st Century CIO

Information technology has changed significantly in the 15 years since the title chief information officer (CIO) was initially coined.

By Mark Polansky , Tarun Inuganti and Simon Wiggins 01 June 2004

Information technology has changed significantly in the 15 years since the title chief information officer (CIO) was initially coined.
The 21st Century CIOAs the intrinsic economic value of information rises, the CIO’s portfolio of responsibilities has evolved to keep pace. Mark Polansky, Tarun Inuganti and Simon Wiggins suggest the ongoing process of rapid change and wrenching transformation is unlikely to end soon.


Based on our interviews with CIOs at leading global organisations, one overarching truth emerges: the CIO’s position in the corporate structure is rising steadily and inexorably from the tactical/operational level to the strategic/management level

“The CIO of tomorrow wants to help the business achieve its business objectives,” says Boeing CIO Scott Griffin. “We will not chase technology for technology’s sake.”

The CIO’s projected rise in stature and visibility will offer significant benefits, both to the CIO and to the organisation he or she serves. There are also significant downsides, the most obvious being that as the weight of responsibility increases, speed and flexibility tend to decrease. As a result, the “21st Century CIO” will be required to master the analytic and forecasting capabilities necessary to plan and successfully manage a complex portfolio of IT investments.

The CIO will also be required to possess the skills and means for tracking the business impact of technology investments throughout the organisation with a far greater degree of precision than the CIO of today.

“The position of CIO will increasingly be recognised as a core business post,” says Carl Wilson, CIO at Marriott International. “This will be driven by companies realising that information technology capabilities are not only critical to supporting their business strategies but that they are also necessary to competitively shape them.”

The 21st Century CIO will be expected to enhance the value of information at multiple points along the value chain and his or her responsibilities will extend far beyond the traditional boundaries of the IT department. Indeed, the CIO will be required to exercise leadership across the width and breadth of the enterprise.

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