cios

CIO stands for Chief Information Officer, commonly the most senior IT and technology position within an organisation. Although in some organisations the title is seen as interchangeable with that of 'IT Director', the CIO role today is generally seen as encompassing a wider range of responsibilities.  

"The era of IT Directors managing large complex data centres in isolation, and in complete control, is over," said Andy Caddy, when he was CIO at Virgin Active fitness group, currently Group CTO of Whitbread.

"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."

The role of the CIO is now conceptualised as a strategic business leadership position, tasked with driving change and transformation within their organisation rather than solely taking charge of IT operations.

"I split IT into two. 'Run the business', and 'grow the business'," SThree CIO, Lance Fisher told CIO UK. "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."

The CIO's role is emerging as one of the most dynamic executive roles, evolving alongside 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.

2018 CIO 100 member and board director at Radius Payment Solutions, Dave Roberts said, "For a CIO to gain credibility with the CEO and board, they need to talk in terms of business outcomes."

"Technology is an enabler to drive greater efficiency, product diversification and increasing speed to market. The CIO is not just a trusted business partner and technology advisor but also a driver of innovation and thought leadership across the C-Suite."

The number of CIOs reporting to CEOs has increased in recent editions of the CIO 100, with around half reporting directly to the CEO according to the 2018 CIO 100

Here, CIO UK examines the job description of a Chief Information Officer, salary and responsibilities of the role.

Read next: Chief Data Officer salary and job description

Who does the CIO report to?

According to the 2018 edition of the CIO 100, slightly over half of UK CIOs report directly to the CEO, while 51% meet with their Chief Executive at least every week. Of those that do not report to the CEO, 14% report to a CFO and 15% to a Chief Operating Officer.

The CIO 100 2018 also showed that 83% of CIOs were part of their organisation's executive leadership board, reflecting their success in influencing change and making strategic decisions. However CIOs are still underrepresented in terms of full board membership, at 29%.

Some CIOs believe this small proportion represents an oversight from the CEO and executives of the organisation. "This should be higher and I believe strongly that proper business CIOs who see opportunities and bring thought-leadership, strategy and vision matched with delivery should sit - along with HR - on more boards," CIO at The Restaurant Group, Simon Iddon, told CIO UK. "Businesses that do not fully embrace the power of technology and people will fall to the wayside of those who do."

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 Payscale.com, CIOs in the UK now earn an average salary of £96,305 per annum. CIOs are also being compensated more than those with an IT Director, Chief Technology Officer or Chief Digital Officer title.

Chief Information Officer role and responsibilities

While the role and responsibilities of the Chief Information Officer differ greatly depending on sectors and styles of organisation, recruitment firm Harvey Nash describes the responsibility of the CIO role to drive a company's business objectives with an IT strategy, solutions and services, and to formulate a road map to support the company's overall strategy. Of course, the CIO also has overall responsibilities for leading a team and for the performance of the IT function.

To effectively manage different, interlinking elements of the enterprise, CIOs must increasingly proficient at managing people and have excellent interpersonal skills. 

"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," Virgin Trains CIO, John Sullivan told CIO UK. "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."

Ford CIO, Marcy Klevorn also pointed this out. "The business of being a CIO, or even being in information technology, is a people business," Klevorn told CIO UK's sister title CIO US

This has led to CIOs hailing from a wider range of backgrounds. "Not starting out as a pure technologist helped me lead with relationships, building trust, and seeking to understand first, and then come with the solution next," she said.