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What does a Chief Information Officer do?
2022-01-07 /

What Does a Chief Information Officer Do?

Technology has significantly changed the way businesses work. That is why companies hire a chief information officer to cope with the tech trends and developments. Let’s know more about the role.

Throughout the years, the roles and responsibilities of a CIO have also evolved along with technology. The only thing that didn’t change is the executive’s main objective—to achieve business goals through tech. With this in mind, the chief information officer leads digital transformation and other tech-related initiatives. 

With today’s new business dynamics, what does a CIO do at the present? What is the compensation package that you will get if you were to fill the position? Are there skill sets required to become a great chief information officer? And how do you become a CIO?

In this entry, we’ll delve into the following topics:

If you’re ready to delve into more details, then check out the discussion below. 

What is a Chief Information Officer?

The chief information officer is the highest executive that deals with the computer and tech information of a company. The company relies on the CIO to manage the IT infrastructure and implement innovative plans for it.

In turn, the executive must ensure that all the IT plans are geared towards the realization of company goals. And if changes are necessary, it’s the executive’s priority to adapt immediately to keep the business on track.

This executive position is critical as it bridges the gap between customer and business needs through information and communication technology. The CIO also controls the costs for an efficient IT infrastructure and protects the organization from potential IT issues.

The position of chief information officer was created in the 1980s. Previously, the executive had a more technical job description. This includes maintaining databases, internal computers, and local networks. However, as the tech scene changed throughout the years, so did the duties of a CIO.

When advancements emerged, such as cloud computing, wireless communication, and data analytics, the CIO’s job was altered. So what are the general responsibilities of a chief information officer today?

What does a Chief Information Officer do?

The chief information officer job description may vary from one company to another. But there are still common duties and responsibilities that the position entails. 

The following are some of the general responsibilities that the CIO fulfills. Depending on the business size, needs, and industry, some of these can also vary.

  • Spearhead the planning and implementation of the company’s information and communication technologies (ICT)
  • Troubleshoot any IT-related issues to ensure that business operations aren’t significantly affected by system errors and downtime
  • Create IT solutions based on company needs and requirements
  • Manage ICT staff and make sure their capabilities stay competitive
  • Handle the planning and management of IT funds
  • Deploy and maintain IT systems and processes
  • Work out relevant IT procedures, security policies, and best practices to ensure that the company’s systems are functional and secure
  • Stay on top of IT trends and other news related to business technology
  • Create professional connections with service providers and other third-party contractors for IT systems

In most cases, the CIO reports directly to the CEO. The CIO also works closely with other C-suite executives like the chief technology officer and chief financial officer. 

Chief Information Officer Salary

According to Indeed.com, the average annual salary of a CIO in the U.S. is $111,280. In addition to that, some CIOs also receive profit-sharing compensation of up to $21,200 every year. And based on the site’s survey results from 187 respondents, 66% of them are satisfied with their salaries.

On the other hand, based on Salary.com’s data, some CIOs receive an average annual salary of $290,378. Meanwhile, Builtin.com revealed that the average base salary of a chief information officer is $224,581. 

It is possible that the discrepancies in these salary ranges are affected by educational background and level of experience. Moreover, certifications and business location can also be factors. Lastly, differences in industries and business size also impact salary rates. 

7 Required Skill Sets for A Chief Information Officer

The educational background of a CIO can vary depending on company requirements. Generally, companies look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in information technology or computer science. Some organizations also consider candidates with a master’s degree in business administration with relevant IT expertise. 

In addition to the aforementioned requirements, there are also skill sets that a chief information officer must possess. So here are some technical and soft skills that can propel one to become a good CIO.

1. Business acumen

A good CIO knows how to look at the bigger picture. The executive must have a good understanding of the role’s impact on ROI and business direction. And, the professional must know how to propel a business forward by maximizing available resources.

2. Technical skills

A CIO must have excellent knowledge of IT systems and infrastructure. Hence, the executive has proven experience in designing and developing IT systems and architecture. It also helps if the executive has the know-how when it comes to data science and information security.

3. People management 

The CIO manages different professionals with various backgrounds. Therefore, the executive also needs to form effective inter- and intra-team cross-functional working relationships. So the chief information officer needs to be skilled at handling people well.

On the other hand, the CIO may also deal with third-party service providers. Hence, to make contract negotiations and SLAs go without a hitch, this executive should be adept at vendor management.

4. Time management

Keeping up with trends that may change overnight can be overwhelming. Plus the CIO has to be firm whether they are beneficial to the company or not. Therefore, the executive should balance the working hours troubleshooting IT-related issues on a real-time basis.

5. Good communicator

A chief information officer has to effectively communicate with the team and other executives. Without this skill, the CIO won’t be able to convey the importance of new tech integration to the business. People in the company will not easily understand why they need to adapt to modern tech.

Moreover, there’s a need to communicate complex terms and technical information to non-technical individuals. So the executive must synthesize these concepts and make them understandable. 

6. Change management skills

Change is never easy. This is especially true if the company has to keep up with technological advancements. It may mean a complete overhaul of the traditional business processes and operations. 

That is why a good CIO must know how to guide everyone in the company to a smooth transition. The executive should understand the tech’s overall impact on the business. And, find ways to utilize it without wasting resources or disrupting processes that affect the bottom line. 

7. High Digital Literacy

As mentioned before, tech trends can change in the blink of an eye. Thus, a CIO must not stop learning about information technology. When the executive stays on top of things, it can bring fresh and modern solutions to be competitive in the market.

The Road to Becoming A CIO

There are many ways to become a chief information officer. Here are some suggestions to help kickstart this professional journey.

  • Earn a degree — Get a bachelor’s degree relevant to the position. This means getting a degree in computer science, IT, or any related field. 
  • Work on your experience — There are two ways to do this. An aspiring CIO can start in an entry-level position and move up the corporate ladder. Or get at least eight years of relevant experience, and apply to the company of choice. 
  • Build a technical portfolio — Find a specialty related to information technology. Whether it’s IT infrastructure or information security, aspiring CIOs build credibility by stacking relevant skills for technical portfolios.
  • Pursue a master’s degree and other certifications — To become more competitive, earn a master’s degree in business administration. Anyone who wants to be a CIO can also look for relevant certifications that may help you in your career.

Do you want to become a CIO?

It’s never too early to prepare yourself for the CIO position. But it’s also never too late to start a career in this role. All you have to do is look for the right opportunities ahead of you. And, build the right skills to become an ideal candidate for the executive position.

Lastly, the future looks bright for the chief information officer role. There is an upward trend in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and business process automation. Hence, more companies will need a person who can handle all these information technology responsibilities. 

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