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CIO role is confused, says survey

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The role of the chief information officer (CIO)in many UK companies is ill-defined, confused and misunderstood, research has revealed.

Many CIOsare perpetually left out of the loop, according to a report by Cranfield School of Management and professional services firm Deloitte.

David Tansley, a partner in Deloitte's consulting practice, said UK companies are still not using their information assets to drive innovation strategy and growth."The CIO should be playing a central role in business, ensuring information underpins business strategy," he said.

The research was conducted among 40 CIOs, senior managers, analysts, consultants and academics. It revealed the role of CIO is highly dependent on the needs of an organisation.

Gary Hird, technical strategy manager for the John Lewis Partnership,said: "The CIO's role is about 'always demonstrating a clear understanding of, and a well-judged response to the pressures his or her organisation faces'."

Chris Edwards, professor at Cranfield School of Management, said tensions arise between CIOs and their peers when the CIO is out of synchronisation with changing business needs.

The research said organisations should continually review the information and technology needs of the business and assess the type of CIO needed.

"The role of the CIO is transitory. It has a clear beginning, middle and end. It is critical the organisation identifies and deploys the appropriate CIO type," he said.

The report saidbusiness and technology need an "evangelist CIO" to bring order to legacy systems and processes.

The next phase requires an "innovator CIO" to use information and technology to create new products, services and business models and embed those capabilities into the organisation.

Once information and technology become an integral part of the organisation, a "facilitator CIO" will be necessary to ensure every department and manager uses information and technology to the full.

The report concludes that the ultimate objective of the CIO's role is to ensure information and technology are so intimately bound to ever aspect of the business that the need for a CIO diminishes.

"But in many respects that is the real opportunity because as a business becomes more information-centric, CIOs will have the opportunity to move on to other senior management roles," said David Tansley.

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