The Many Personas of the Future CIO

IT departments are evolving, and naturally, that means the role of the CIO is shifting, too.

Over the past few years, cost pressures, demands for innovation and – perhaps most significantly – the social media/mobile revolution have transformed IT. A decade ago, IT helped run the business. Now, IT is the business. Without a doubt, the role of the CIO is being completely redefined as organizations learn to integrate and then leverage their IT resources.

But, what type of new leaders will emerge from this evolution? Will we even recognize the position of Chief Information Officer? As blogger R “Ray” Wang sees it in his recent post at Harvard Business Review, the up-and-coming new generation of CIOs will be dominated by these four distinct personas:

  • Chief Infrastructure Officers: centered on cost reduction, tech and internal-facing activities
  • Chief Integration Officers: connects internal and external ecosystems
  • Chief Intelligence Officers: improves business-user access to information
  • Chief Innovation Officers: identifies disruptive technologies for pilot projects

On the whole, I agree with Ray’s analysis of CIO shifts, but as you might expect given Apptio’s focus, I would advocate for a fifth persona, one that captures more definitively the integration of business and IT.

After all, in order for CIOs to become true catalysts of business growth, they must start recognizing the need to run IT like a business, and the new-generation of IT leaders will have to take a long-term view while they make the business management of technology pervasive across the enterprise. In addition, they’ll need a new set of tools that can unify financial metrics (i.e., GL, payroll, etc.) with key utilization metrics (i.e., server usage, ticketing, etc.) and provide the cost transparency and accountability that the C-suite demands.

Ray points out that companies are slowly starting to shift gears while learning to accommodate these different personas in different ways –by upgrading skill sets, adding lieutenants, or even creating a second CIO-like organization to fill the roles of Chief Intelligence and Chief Innovation Officer. That’s good news because however it shakes down at your organization, one thing is clear: Now is the time to start proactively managing IT changes. CIOs (and all personas) must become fully engaged as strategic business partners.