CIO: James Brown of the Enterprise

Ann All

It seems safe to say that the CIO is the hardest-working executive in the enterprise, at least based on the number of roles he or she is expected to fill.


Two business professors who authored this Optimize article put the magic number at seven: utility provider, information steward, educator, integrator, organizational architect, relationship architect and strategist.


According to their research, most CIOs are quite effective in the first three roles, but many need work on the latter four, which will require them to leave the comfort zone of technical acumen.


In a CIOUpdate article, an EDS fellow says CIOs must fill at least seven roles in addition to chief information officer: chief investigative officer, chief international officer, chief inoculation officer, chief identity officer, chief innovation officer, chief integration officer and, our favorite, chief irritation officer.


The chief irritation officer is described as a "strategic irritant" who respects, yet challenges, the status quo and strikes "a balance between what's technically possible and what's economically feasible."


As a bonus, the fellow mentions the three roles that no self-respecting CIO wants to play: chief inertia officer, chief impediment officer and chief inefficiency officer.


In an IT Business Edge interview, TCG Advisors Managing Director Philip Lay contends that no company should expect a single person to be able to wear that many hats.


Lay suggests that companies should instead create two positions: chief process innovation officer and chief information technology officer, with them splitting duties roughly on a left brain/right brain basis.


We think it's safe to say that today's CIO has got a brand new bag.

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