Types of CIOs

When we talked about the unique challenges facing businesses today, we emphasized the important role technology leaders have to play. They hold the keys to what businesses need to weather changes in the market, technology, communities, and the economy. They are builders of Enterprise Agility, which means embedding adaptability, resilience, and flexibility into the organization by executing a forward-thinking strategy and investing in a cloud-first infrastructure to drive speed.

Here, we want to zero in on the role of the CIO, who is faced with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. CIOs are being pressed to lead the charge for their organizations, seed innovation, and bring new models to life. The trend towards greater value-creation also hinges on monetization: CIOs are thinking about how to create more revenue for the business via things like subscription-based services or platform-as-a-service.

It’s a transformational role that comes with a lot of responsibility, but also significant opportunity. However, not every CIO is in the same position: Some are proving themselves out in their organizations, some are already established business partners; some have the resources they need and some are short-skilled or short-staffed; and all have different internal pressures to contend with.

We’ve partnered with a plethora of CIOs in our time and have examined their challenges, their motivations, and their goals. While we recognize every individual is unique, we’ve identified certain commonalities that can help us gauge where a CIO is, and how we can best help.

So, in this time when your role is being at once elevated and complicated, it may be a helpful exercise to ask yourself the very questions we ask our partners at the start of a transformation: What is your current role in the organization, and where do you see yourself going? How can you maximize opportunities to deliver more value?

What type of CIO are you?

The Traditional CIO

Under-funded or under-supported, you’re tasked with keeping IT costs down at all turns. Perhaps your business is in decline or IT as a % of G&A is viewed as too high. Loyalty to the business and a knack for savviness are your primary drivers as you maintain the crucial balance between quality and cost-consciousness.

Operations CIO

You’re trusted to run your company’s entire infrastructure, from data centers to SAP. When a service issue arises, you’re challenged to find the resources you need to make sure operations are not compromised. Your IT team may not have the expertise to execute on new business solutions.

Service Leader CIO

Business services are your purview: You know the problems you need to solve and you’re focused on delivering technology that directly drives the business. You’re measured first by availability, but gain credibility as you prove your impact, so you seek quality in any partner.

Transformation CIO

You’re a partner and peer to the business, balancing operations and new business capabilities. You know what it takes to drive the business forward, but may be bogged down by legacy systems and operations responsibilities. While you may lack capacity to deliver big-impact projects, you’re focused on a future vision and technical excellence.

Subtype – Visionary CIO

You have both the clout and capabilities of the Transformation CIO, but your title may actually be “CTO.” That’s because you work for a technology company where the product IS the business, so you’re laser-focused on making it innovative and excellent and may simply be bottlenecked by lack of skills and resources.

 

Wherever you fit in the above categories, your challenges are surely unique—we understand those nuances too. But sometimes, being able to characterize our own role within the organization helps us pinpoint potential roadblocks to progress: Progress for your company, sure, but also for yourself, your organization, and the IT world at large. Wherever you sit on the spectrum today, you are the innovators of tomorrow, the ones who will bring agility to the enterprise, help businesses survive and thrive, and make an unprecedented impact on people’s lives. You may think that sounds hyperbolic, but we based Headspring’s whole value proposition on the belief that great software can transform both businesses and people. We stand by that, and stand ready to support today’s change-leaders.

 

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