CIO stands for Chief Information Officer. The CIO is often the most senior IT and technology individual within an organisation, while the job position itself takes the title IT director in some organisations. A common view runs that a true CIO is a strategic business leader driving change and transformation within their organisation rather than being the head of the IT department.
The CIO's role is emerging as one of the most dynamic executive roles, evolving to the demands of technology, digital ecosystems, business model innovation and customer expectations - with CEO reports now revealing they expect their Chief Information Officer to be a strategic business partner and revenue creator rather than cost centre manager.
The number of CIOs reporting to their CEO has increased in recent editions of the CIO 100, with 56% reporting directly to the Chief Executive in the 2016 CIO 100. Recruitment firm Harvey Nash and analyst house Gartner have also reported similar trends in global studies of CIOs.
CIO UK looks at the job description of a Chief Information Officer, salary and responsibilities of the role. [See also: Chief Data Officer salary and job description]
Chief Information Officer salary - How much does a CIO get paid?
Since CIO job descriptions vary across industry and size of organisations, salaries also reflect the different demands of the role.
According to recruitment firm Harvey Nash, in 2016 CIOs saw a small increase in salary and were earning on average £167,107. Some 35% had received an increase in base salary in the past 12 months. It was also reported that CIOs were being compensated more than those with an IT director, Chief Technology Officer or Chief Digital Officer title.
While salaries varied from industry to industry, CIOs in banking, media and financial services received the highest average salaries, with those in education and local government at the other end of the scale. [See also: 2016 CIO salary benchmark by industry - Average salaries of UK CIOs by sector]
Chief Information Officer reporting line - Who does the CIO report to?
According to Harvey Nash's global study only 34% of Chief Information Officers report directly to their CEO, although over half of CIOs in the 2016 CIO 100 reported to their organisation's CEO or equivalent. The CIO 100 also showed an increase in the number of CIOs with a seat on the executive board, reflecting their success in influencing change and making strategic decisions.
While the number of CIOs reporting to the CEO has increased, there has been an almost corresponding decrease in CIOs reporting into the CFO or finance function.
Chief Information Officer role and responsibilities - What are the duties of the CIO?
While the role and responsibilities of the Chief Information Officer differs greatly depending on sectors and styles of organisation, recruitment firm Harvey Nash described the responsibility of the CIO role to drive a company's business objectives with an IT strategy, solutions and services, and to formulate a roadmap to support the company's overall strategy. Of course, the CIO also has overall responsiblities for leading a team and for the performance of the IT function.
CIO UK columnist Ian Cox described the Chief Information Officer role as being at the forefront of providing leadership as well as changing the culture of the organisation. How these skills are deployed varied depending upon on the demands of a business. [See also: Ian Cox discusses how the CIO role will change in 2017]
Former CIO Cox, a research analyst at Gartner, said that it was now both an exciting and challenging time to be a CIO. "The CIO is no longer the organisation's IT gatekeeper with the power to control every technology decision," he said. "Instead they have to advise, guide and influence the technology decisions being made across the organisation.
"In the digital world, CIOs are required to be business leaders who are responsible for technology, not just pure technology leaders. They need to sound and act like a business leader, take a business-focused approach to leading the IT function and contribute to issues and subjects beyond technology. And they need to focus on the core business, its customers, products and services, and use their knowledge of technology to identify opportunities to create value for the organisation."
What is a CIO? What CIOs say about the Chief Information Officer role
Who better to discuss some of the challenges, opportunities and elements of the CIO role than Chief Information Officers themselves? Here we look at 11 CIOs discussing the CIO role:
"I describe the CIO role as the 'collaborative influencing officer' and I have tried to make the IT function a role model for collaboration, which is one of our core values. We have tried many things, including taking ourselves off the organisation chart as a 'box' and saying we were the 'lines between the boxes', inviting ourselves to management meetings we had previously not attended, and setting up new working groups around cross-functional topics."
Andy Williams, then Save the Children CIO
"I think the CIO role is being a business person. I think the CIO role is clearly about leadership; people talk about project process and policies and that is important but what is far more important is people engagement. We have got to sell what we can do and deliver it. It just the engagement with the business to be even better and be real business people but overall it is a business leadership role than a technology role."
John Sullivan, Virgin Trains CIO
"The CIO role is to drive growth, innovation and productivity in a company. It's about planning and connecting the dots on how this is all going to come together. And the CIO has to be somebody who can bring it all together; that's a very challenging set of concurrent activities that we are asked to do."
Robert Webb, Etihad CIO
"I split IT into two. 'Run the business', and 'grow the business'. You have to learn and understand the business and its competitive advantage, understand how your competitors run their businesses and then look to deliver competitive advantage. I firmly believe as a CIO you are the glue, you need to connect IT to the business, vendors and your clients."
Lance Fisher, SThree CIO
"It's important for us to create value for the business. If the IT department is not creating value for the business then it's not necessary."
Fernando Villa, Sagrada Familia CIO
"The CIO role in Ireland has a seat on the board and reports to the director general of the health service. The role of the CIO is rightly expected to be part of the healthcare management team, being part of the decision-making processes that are integral to the reform of the health system. As a CIO in health I am part of the decision-making process relating to the physical infrastructure of the organisation, ensuring that technology can facilitate and often even act as a catalyst for a health care reform programme."
Richard Corbridge, HSE Ireland CIO
"The CIO role is a first-class citizen at group level, alongside my peers, the CIO also sits on the operating boards of the various digital businesses in the group, and contributing fully to the commercial strategy in so much as the IT one. "
Tim Jones, MoneySupermarket.com Group CIO
"The CIO role is now more than ever about communicating and listening to your customers and users. By holding a seat on the board and making the important discussions happen leading to working groups driving technology forward."
Simon Kniveton, Orridge Information Systems and Services Director
"I don't believe technology and the CIO should necessarily drive the way an organisation operates, but technology will give you more opportunities to change and improve what you do than almost anything else.
"What the technology department should be doing is exploring those opportunities and promote or explore where they see an opportunity; where they can work with the organisation to see if this bit of innovation can really make a difference."
Chris O'Brien, Royal Shakespeare Company CIO
"The era of IT Directors managing large complex data centres in isolation, and in complete control, is over.
"The new job description of a CIO involves relationships and transparency, collaboration and business value. The great digital leaders of the next decade will need to understand their business intimately; they will be the masters of change and they can only do this if they are intimately familiar with the business they are changing. They will be highly skilled at relationships because their colleagues will always have a choice; buy externally or go with IT. And finally they will need to be fleet of foot; agility and responsiveness are key in a world that changes day to day. No one wants to hear about five-year road maps any more."
Andy Caddy, Virgin Active CIO
"No CIO will exist without continuing to deliver and needing to do something on a regular basis that demonstrates his or her value. And don't get me wrong, you don't report to the Chief Exec without the CEO feeling that that's a valued thing to do."
Bob Brown, Manchester City Council CIO