My intent with this blog is to provoke a spirited discussion on topics of importance to CIOs. I’d like to start by suggesting a possibly “final” answer to the question “What is the role of the CIO?” We often hear that the “I” in CIO can stand for Infrastructure, Innovation, Integration, Intelligence, and Information. From a realistic (as contrasted to theoretical) perspective, it seems to me that the “I” in CIO actually stands for all of the alternatives I’ve listed – with emphasis on one or another depending on the prevailing circumstances. Certainly, there is a de facto hierarchy. We all have heard about the fundamental importance of “KTLO” (keep the lights on) applications such as email, payroll, G/L, etc. and we understand that these must work smoothly together to provide to provide consistently reliable and timely information — information built on integration and integration built on infrastructure. This leaves us with Intelligence and Innovation. “Intelligence” is said to be the insights we discover by discerning and making sense of the often not-easy-to-notice trends and correlations in the “haystack” of information – thus discovering the proverbial Needle in a Haystack. But even when we stack “Intelligence” on top of Information on top of Integration on top of Infrastructure, we still haven’t done enough. The highest challenge facing today’s CIOs is executing the first four tiers in the hierarchy in a manner that provides a sustainable platform for the fifth, Innovation – with such Innovation giving a company an enduring IT-based competitive advantage.
Succinctly stated, a CIO must provide all five “I’s” and do so in a manner that is well aligned with the needs and culture of his or her company.
If you agree or disagree, please take a few minutes of your time to give our readers the benefit of your thoughts.