The CIO’s “primary accountability is to ensure that the enterprise achieves strategic value from the use of technology” – Gartner


Chief Information Officer (CIO) is a job title commonly given to the most senior person responsible in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support corporate goals. CIO’s typically report to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and participate in numerous executive committees of an organization. In some cases the CIO will report to the board of Directors and may sit on the board. Other terms referring to CIO functional roles include IT Director or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).


Most CIOs of large companies have business degrees such as a Master of Business Administration, Master of Computer Science, and Bachelors of Business Administration. Most important are a CIOs’ leadership capabilities, business acumen and strategic perspectives over technical skills. It is now quite common for CIOs to be appointed from the business side of the organization, given that they have strong leadership and problem solving skills.


CIO ‘scan have numerous technical certifications that may include:
•Project Management Professional (PMP) – offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
•Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
•Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT)

The characteristics of a CIO are essentially no different than executives in other functions. A google search will provide hundreds of articles and each will list different traits that are the characteristics of a successful CIO. There is no defined career path for CIOs, nor is there any certification, degree, or even common body of knowledge that CIOs must follow to be successful. Each position is different and the specific characteristics and level of maturity in those characteristics will vary greatly based upon numerous factors. However, the following qualities, at minimum, should be emphasized in when considering minimal necessary requirements of a successful CIO.

Leadership – Develop a vision, sharing that vision, inspiring and motivating others to drive change to realize your vision.

Communications – Listening and adapting your communication style depending on your audience, situation and goal.

Problem Solver – The ability to use intuition or a structured methodology to define and analyze a problem to reach a solution.

Business Operations Intelligent – A fundamental understanding of the industry, company and current business cycle. 

Innovator – The skill to introduce new methods, ideas, products and technologies that impact the top and bottom lines.

Emotionally Intelligent – The ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you.

Visionary – The ability to develop a clear and specific vision of the desired future-state of an IT organization.

Influencer, Motivator, Inspirer, Empathetic – the ability to put themselves in someone else’s situation

Change Agent – Someone who acts as catalyst and assumes the responsibility for bringing and managing change activities to the organization.

Process Expert – The ability to use a systematic approach to help an organization optimize processes to achieve more efficient results.

Tech Savvy – Proficient in the use of all aspects of technology and able to converse with technologists but not necessarily an expert in technology.

Financial Savvy – Have a solid grasp of fundamental finance and accounting processes and reporting. Understand the financial implications of IT investments.


A CIO can have numerous responsibilities and responsibilities that will vary by position. However I have listed the most common responsibilities below:

  • Participate in corporate strategic and operational planning as a member of the senior management team.
  • Participate in or provide reporting to the Corporate Board as needed.
  • Strategic planning and technology roadmap development for the future of information systems in the organization.
  • Foster innovation, prioritizing IT initiatives, and coordinating the evaluation, deployment of new technology services.
  • Ensure governance of information systems IT systems policies, principles, and procedures
  • Develop and implement an IT platform to serve the organization in every aspect.
  • Manage investment portfolio of information systems and projects.
  • Develop and maintain organization structure, staff levels and skillsets required to support information systems.
  • Implement Risk Management, Physical and environment security programs.
  • Designing and implementing Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans.
  • Assess, develop, supervise and continually improving IT Service Management Operations.
  • Consult with functional leads, managers, and business users to exchange information, present new approaches, and to discuss equipment/system changes.
  • Participate in vendor contract negotiations for all new computer equipment and software purchased for the corporation.

This article should give you a basic idea of What is a Chief Information Officer (CIO). Please feel free to contact me with any questions.