All organizations need the basics of technology leadership: responsibility and accountability for making solid investments in technology products, services, and people to further the goals of their organizations: adding strategic value. One of the main priorities of a CIO is to invest in technologies or innovations that add value to your organization. Adding a CIO to your team solves several challenges in an organization.
- Every CEO needs someone to take responsibility and accountability for all technology decisions within an organization. This transfer of responsibility for technology to a highly competent CIO is one of the most liberating and impactful decisions a CEO will make.
- Adept CIOs utilize their understanding of the current technology landscape and trends to lead the technology initiatives that will support business objectives.
From that point forward, the CIO sets out to understand:
- the goals and challenges of the organization,
- the impact and success of past investments in technology products, services, and people, and
- how to best leverage technology to enable even greater organizational success.
There are four key responsibilities of the CIO role from which all other priorities flow:
Technology changes much faster than any organization can realistically adopt those changes. And the business climate in which the organization operates varies considerably across industries and from one year to the next.
The top 3 CIO priorities below remain consistent through changes in technology and business climate across time:
Operate: Operating successfully in a steady state means meeting service levels and accommodating requests for regular, recurring events and periodic interruptions during day-to-day operations.
Innovate: Failure to innovate leads to mountains of technical debt that weighs down the organization and threatens its existence. Successful innovation requires that the CIO put a process in place to make it regular and recurring.
Secure: The CIO typically addresses security priorities through a partnership with the CISO role as well as relationships with auditors and security vendors to identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from risks.
Since the CIO is responsible for creating and implementing a technology strategy, it's vital that they align with the CEO and organizations' overall value propositions and strategic direction. When an experienced CIO acts as a strategic advisor, thought leader, and a trusted confidant, they elicit new ideas from every function of the organization.
The good news is that most organizations don't need to hire a full-time CIO; many hire a technology leader on an interim or fractional (part-time) basis to create an innovative process and level up the core competencies of the existing team. For more information on fractional technology leadership, read "You Might Not Need a Full Time Chief Information Officer".