The Role of a CIO

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This document explains the role of the CIO on a company. It broadens on the amount of work required from the CIO in order to make the company work as clockwork, aligning the IT requirements with the business requirements of an organization.

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The impact of a CIO role in the Business Strategy

Nowadays, every company no matter of what industry banks heavily on the
availability of IT resources and systems that allow their workflow to be agile
and bottleneck less. This is no longer the responsibility of a segmented IT
department whose core is to support the business, but rather has become a
fully functional synergy where both the business and the Information
Technology solutions can increase the competitiveness of the processes of the
business. This of course comes with the caveat of having a head of IT, whose
main focus should be the strategic alliance between the goals of the company
(sales, logistics, information, etc.) and how to enable them through
technological solutions. This however, is often missed by companies who are
only able to see direct, short term benefits.
The CIO of a company of whatever industry is not often recognized as a
part of the management board, rendering him unable to have a say on whether
something can or cannot be improved, let alone achieved. This is a malpractice
that has been widely observed even on big companies; luckily, as time and
technologies change, this trend is changing in order to further empower the
head of IT as a business decision maker. But with all this power, what is a CIO
to do in order to enhance the workflow of a company and achieve the intended
outcome named: reduce costs and increase revenue?
The role of a Chief Information Officer is widely known, but often
disregarded because of the bad implementation of their tasks. What a
competent CIO is capable of doing in order to be considered a management
asset consist of the following:









Develop and/or refine the strategy of the business with the perspective
of an enabler.
Studying of the trends among the customers, and the information
derived from this.
Drive innovation of the business by banking (usually) on technological
solutions.
Development of new market strategies based on collected historical
data.
Aligning IT initiatives with business goals.
Implementing new systems, architecture and infrastructure.
Negotiations with IT vendors and suppliers for a balanced costperformance solution.
Managing IT crises, operations, and security (both real and potential
threats).

All of the above tasks should be easily achieved with a competent CIO, the
support of management for the IT Department, and a knowledgeable team of IT
people. However, as supported by some interviews conducted by McKinsey,
even if this is the case, the perception of management goes the distance into
deciding whether IT is performing properly or not. This lack of support is usually
the hardest challenge to overcome by the CIO.
This is not only a management issue, as seen in HBR’s article, the overall
view of the IT department by the rest of the company is highly biased towards
a cost center and service provider mentality. So the job description of the CIO
shall include, at least for the upcoming short-term, to gradually shift this
mentality into one inclined towards business making or business game
changer. The ways in which a CIO can enable that include technological
innovation and solutions that increase the business capabilities.
Mark Sunday, the CIO of Oracle has been successfully implementing the
above practices with an interesting twist. He is the CIO of a company which
core is precisely IT. Some of the remarks about the role of a CIO as well as the
challenges of such position can provide us with more insight about the
importance of a CIO in management and business decision making.
“I am responsible for the global competing infrastructure and networking
infrastructure and how we service our end users in nearly 100 countries. My team is
about 1,200 strong in 50 countries, supporting those folks around the world.
Everything from end user services up through a variety of different things
necessary for them to communicate, collaborate, and execute their jobs. (…)So
between what we do within my organization and my counterparts in development,
we serve all of our 140,000+ end users.”

As hard as the numbers might make the position look like, this is nothing
but a scaled up version of a regular company, and Mark explains that
managing the systems and infrastructure is a vital part of the job. Not
forgetting that the work is made for the end users.
“We take additional roles. If you add not only what we do to run our company
but what we do via our managed club services, or our public cloud offerings, we
have by far the broadest and largest implementation of Oracle technologies. So
we are by far the biggest influencer, we are the first adopter, and providing that
we are really successful in those two roles, we are positioned to be the best
promoter. So those roles make it more exciting for me, as well as for my team to
be an integral part of the products and services we offer.”

Mark also mentions that as early adopters of their own technologies or
the new products they acquire they are the main customers. This is an
enjoyable process that allows everyone to pitch in their ideas. Additionally, him
as a CIO for an IT company doesn’t have the burden of convincing

management of the importance of technological innovation to enable the
business to grow, but emphasizes on the burden that he does have.
“Just because we can does not mean we should. So that is actually one of the
biggest challenges: keeping the focus.”

This allows for us to extrapolate his position into whichever industry we seem
applicable. But essentially that encompasses the position of a CIO and the
importance of his role as a business decision maker. Some of the activities that
he oversees as well are the innovation and development of features in several
of their products. They like to test their products first and a good example of
this is the acquisition of Bitzer Mobile, a company that they bought and on day
one started working on. They practice testing and reviewing the product until a
certain level of satisfaction and quality is achieved. And then they launch it into
the market, increasing with this their potential revenue and reducing the
amount of failures possible.
Finally, a graphical aid should clarify in depth what has been described
as the main responsibilities of a CIO, and a SWOT matrix should do it.

Strenghts
Technological
know-how to
potentiate the
business
capabilities and
enable
progress.

Weaknesses
Strongly
mislead
perception of
the potential
benefits for the
organization at
a managerial
level.

Opportunities
Innovation
accelerators
and research on
fields not
categorized as
niche and their
previous
success.

Threats
Poor support
from
management.
Unauthorized
decision making
processes.

Referencias:
Arandjelovic, P., Bulin, L., & Khan, N. (February de 2015). McKinsey & Company.
Recuperado el 1 de October de 2015, de Why CIOs should be businessstrategy partners:
http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/why_cios_should
_be_business-strategy_partners

Harvard Business Review. (March de 2014). HBR. Recuperado el 1 de October
de 2015, de Business Transformation and the CIO Role:
https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/red
%20hat/hbr_red_hat_report_march14.pdf
High, P. (3 de August de 2015). Forbes Tech. Recuperado el 1 de October de
2015, de Oracle's Board-Level CIO Mark Sunday Drives Innovation As The
Company's First Customer:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2015/08/03/oracles-board-levelcio-mark-sunday-drives-innovation-as-the-companys-first-customer/2/

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