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  • June 12, 2000
  • News

Major shifts in CIO roles, Gartner says

CIOs are not dead or obsolete, rather the species is mutating into a number of species. The role CIO is being reshaped, and CIOs are at the executive table in four different "species"--each with distinct roles and sets of skills critical to e-businesses.

According to a recent study of the 1,400 CIO members of Gartner’s Executive Programs, leading enterprises that want to succeed in e-business are moving to a cluster of CIO-related executive roles. The emerging needs for e-business are changing how executive managers perceive CIOs and their place in the executive boardroom--they are, in fact, placing executives with significant IT responsibilities at higher ranks of executive decision-making.

"The CIO is alive and well, but has mutated, and is more influential than ever," says Dr. Marianne Broadbent, worldwide research director for Gartner's Executive Programs. "Today and tomorrow's CIO is a clearly different species than we have seen. We have found that in mid- to large-sized organizations, a new style of executives with business and technology fusion responsibilities has emerged, evolving to handle different parts of IT and e-business strategies and implementations."

Gartner sees four species of "the genus CIO" emerging in leading organizations. The first style of CIO, still often referred to as CIO, may have responsibility across the enterprise in a demand management role--a strategic position focusing on shaping top level business needs and expectations across the enterprise. This particular CIO would not be responsible for delivering on implementation.

The second style of CIO, operating at the same level as the first, is the chief technology officer or chief infrastructure officer. This executive is responsible for making sure that the technology-based services are delivered in a cost-effective way. Responsibilities often include exploiting sourcing opportunities.

Third, is the "technology opportunist," an executive responsibility that has grown from the demands of e-business. This executive is heavily involved in stimulating new business opportunities because of his or her grasp of emerging technologies and the enterprise business directions.

The fourth role--particularly in a multidivisional organization--is that of CIOs in charge of a significant business unit within a company. Often, they focus on combining demand and supply roles in a business unit, responsible for managing and shaping expectations as well as delivering specific business unit level services.

"CIOs are really adding life to the strategic initiatives of organizations coupling insight on the technology with an understanding of a company's core business,” says Broadbent. “They are one of the few groups of executives who have a real "helicopter" view of the organization and their executive colleagues are now realizing how valuable that is."

Gartner believes that individual executives need to look carefully at how they can best apply their own capabilities to the demands of these new roles. This is particularly key for executives working within an organization that decides to split the CIO role into multiple jobs, and they find themselves faced with choosing which role they would like to adopt.

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