The Evolution and Career Path of the CIO


There’s been a lot of debate in the news and social networks about what’s in store for future CIOs. Oddly, pundits are in on the act, attempting to define exactly what we mean by CIO. Regardless of the title, the fact is that CIOs live on the knife’s edge of innovation, and today, that blade has never been sharper.

I’ll be talking about this at length in a webinar, The Evolution and Career Path of The CIO, which I encourage you to attend. Today, I wanted to offer some insight into what I’ll be covering and the impact of the changing role of the CIO.

The CIOs of Old

In the past, CIOs were measured creatively. That is, if the software they developed was on time and on budget, they got a pat on the back. Now, because of the pervasiveness of technology, CIOs can be measured in terms of business impacts, customer insights, and enabling business growth through the optimization of people, process, technology, and data & analytics. Anyone looking to carve their path to the CIOs chair can’t afford to be reactive to the business strategy. They need to be proactive, strategic, and a spot-on culture fit.

The typical path to CIO usually started in application development and gradually worked toward the CIO role. But now, we’re seeing CIOs coming from finance, and even HR. That’s because technical skills are becoming less of a priority, as top-level management want the CIO to keep their teams productive and build relationships with customers.

CIOs of the Future

While the next generation of CIOs will still likely come from the world of application development, they will need to better understand how to measure themselves in terms of their business impact.

Because of this, the prioritization of skills and competencies for CIOs has shifted from focusing on deliverables and cost, to focusing on customer analytics and business growth. IT organizations now are not only managing risk and cost, but they’re managing the business outcomes. And they’re doing all of this with less budget and staff, making the tools and assets that manage risk and cost critical to the business.

Speed is also becoming a main driver for every IT organization, and CIOs are being asked to increase their speed to market, speed to solution, and speed to understanding their customers through an improved digital strategy.

The CIO will always be measured against two factors: time and budget. That will never change. But who would have guessed that simply adding “driving business outcomes” into the mix would radically alter what CIOs need to be prepared for?

It’s a catch-22 in some ways. You could hire a non-technical CIO that knows the business but might not deliver the meat and potatoes in terms of great products and services. Or you could grab a techy CIO whose products are innovative, but who lacks the business acumen to drive results. But regardless of your choice, your CIO is going to have big shoes to fill.

How do you see the role of the CIO evolving? Do you have your career path to the CIO mapped out? Sign up for my webinar, The Evolution and Career Path of the CIO, for the answers to these questions and more to help you start your roadmap to the CIO.

Filed in: CAST News
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Justin Cerilli
Justin Cerilli Managing Director, Financial Services Technology and Data & Analytics
Justin Cerilli is Managing Director at Russell Reynolds Associates and co-leads the firm's FinTech and Data Analytics Practices. Within Financial Services, he recruits technology, data, analytics, operations, and digital leaders for Insurance, Asset Management, Capital Markets and Consumer Banking clients.
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