In focus: CIO responsibilities and his change in role

How have your responsibilities and role as a CIO changed over the years? Get insights from ‘The Indian CIO Salary and Career Survey 2012’ findings.

“CIOs ... are expected to know the business, as well as understand the domain-specific challenges and opportunities. Such a knowledge-level is essential to provide new technology solutions, whether it’s marketing, sales, warehousing, finance, or any other…”

— From “Oh I See!”

At the risk of repeating a topic often visited by media, it has to be said that the Indian CIO seems serious about his responsibilities and evolution in the corporate scheme of things. This is why India’s first CIO Salary and Career Survey 2012 conducted by decided to focus on this important subject: CIO responsibilities.

Before we begin, it must be admitted that the survey respondents are honest in their responses — even as they candidly portray their present condition.

CIO-aspirations at work

To start with, a majority of the respondents (52%) believe that the CIO role in their organization is more business focused; 14% of them believe the CIO to be ‘customer focused’. Only 27% of them state that the CIO is technology focused. These responses should be considered as driven by aspirations, since a further probe into the CIO’s responsibilities and the role itself points to a mismatch. There exists many a gap between the CIOs’ aspirations and the reality.

Close to 41% respondents mention that, on an average, they spend less than half of their time (26-50%), on strategic activities such as business and IT integration, long-term planning, IT product or services development, or innovation, in any given month. Another group of 37% admits that strategic activities consume 10% to 25% of their time on a monthly basis, on average. (Figure 1. Time spent on strategic activities)

Fig. 1: Time spent on strategic activities

Probing further into the CIO responsibilities reveals another facet: 41% of the respondents say that they spend most of their time in ‘Using technology creatively to achieve business goals’. Only 7% and 1% of them say their time is spent in ‘integrating or consolidating technologies’ and ‘containing costs’, respectively. (Figure 2. Analyzing the current CIO responsibilities)

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A: Managing projects
B: Containing costs
C: Using tech creatively to achieve biz goals
D: Integrating or consolidating tech
E: Removing communication barriers within IT
F: Removing communication barriers between IT & Biz
G: Building and managing teams

Fig. 2: Analyzing the current CIO responsibilities

The fact that a majority of CIOs are far from being involved in ‘leadership and strategic planning’ is confirmed when 62% respondents say that amongst their non-IT peers, they spend the most of their time with those from ‘Operations’. Only about 18% say that they spend most of their time with ‘Senior Executives’. (Figure 3. Non-IT colleagues that CIOs rub elbows with)

Figure 3. Non-IT colleagues that CIOs rub elbows with

The theme repeats when 48% of our total respondents cite ‘Productivity goals’ as the key measure of success for their positions. Other important qualities quoted by the survey respondents are ‘Innovation and creativity’ (44%) and ‘Number of new projects’ (34%).

We come full circle when we examine what CIOs consider as the new responsibilities expected of their positions. More than half the respondents (56%) cite ‘Coordinating the integration of IT into business’, followed by 41% that mention ‘Information management skills’ as the new responsibility. (Figure 4. New responsibilities of the Indian CIO). 

A: Information management skills
B: Training and development of staff
C: Understanding economic impact of IT on the business
D: Managing shared services environment
E: Coordinating the integration of IT into the business
F: I have not taken any new responsibilities
G: Other
Figure 4. New responsibilities of the Indian CIO

This suggests that Indian CIOs acknowledge that ‘Business IT alignment’ will be an increasingly important CIO responsibility, going forward.


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