It is easy to see how many people can mistakenly believe that the title of chief information officer (CIO) is synonymous with chief computer guy in an organization. In reality, the role of a chief information officer is much more involved. CIOs typically serve as a bridge, conveying technology-related information and knowledge between the many departments of an organization. This key position usually is in place to help solve problems within a business or organization.
Because many chief information officers have information technology (IT) backgrounds, it can appear that the CIO simply is the head of the IT department. In most organizations, there are many divisions within the IT department with each performing specific functions to support the technical needs of employees, implement new technologies, and develop new technology applications. Larger organizations typically have many managers who each oversee their own area. The chief information officer typically works with all IT managers to ensure that various units within IT coordinate their efforts to efficiently solve problems.
A chief information officer typically must be a big picture thinker. As a senior officer, the CIO usually can observe activities in all departments and at all layers of an organization. The CIO also usually can use information from various departments to project future problems and needs. She typically develops and implements strategies to fix problems, and identifies areas where the organization can utilize technology to make operations more efficient and cost effective. The CIO typically relies on a team of people throughout an organization to accomplish these goals.
Various departments within an organization, such as human resources (HR), finance, legal, etc., typically are focused primarily on their own area of responsibility. Because the leaders of each department are focused on the day-to-day operations of their own group, the CIO can help each department see how departments can work together to streamline processes and share information. The CIO also can help department heads understand which areas need improvement, and help them find and implement solutions.
Overall, chief information officers usually are less involved in daily operations and are more concerned with the functions of a company, like business strategy, revenue, and process management. The CIO typically also is involved in online strategy, which can affect the business revenue generation and customer relations of an organization. As organizations in all areas of the public and private sector become more reliant on technology, the need for efficient information management should continue to increase, making the role of the CIO more crucial to the success of an organization.