The Duties of a Chief Information Officer (CIO)

The purpose of having a CIO in the organization is to protect the information, data integrity of an organization and to oversee the functions of all IT functions of an enterprise. An organization which designates a CIO, treats IT as an asset for the organization. The CIO must increase this significance of IT by perfectly aligning IT with business goals. This may be done by establishing data centers, technical service centers, production scheduling functions, help desks, communication networks, computer program development, and training employees.

With the large amount of information availability and the power associated with the position, the CIO is a person who can take IT related strategic decisions. A CIO will work closely with the CEO, Executive Management, Board of Directors and stakeholders to take these decisions. Depending on the organization’s size, a CIO may also take tactical IT decisions. A CIO should be a person who can give guidance and inspirations to his or her subordinates in the organization’s operational processes.

It is widely accepted that a CIO’s main priority should be the IT-Business alignment. Through this alignment, a CIO positively contributes to the business growth of the organization.

The CIO must ensure the internal and external customers can obtain accurate, complete and timely data for business operations. They must always stay in touch with latest technologies, developments and trends.. They need to be innovative, so that they can convert opportunities in the market to strengths. An example of current Sun’s CIO’s strategic decisions is, closing down a working datacenter in Netherlands. Through careful planning they were able to get the same performance by moving it to an existing facility in U.K., with a 70% – 75% reduction in footprint requirements and an 80% power reduction.

A CIO has a major responsibility in Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) planning. Sooner or later every business will face an unexpected disaster. Therefore, it is essential especially the IT department have BCP and DR to face such a situation. Some of the disasters that affect IT include natural risks such as fire, flood, earthquakes, hurricanes; and man-made risks such as terrorism, viruses, hackers, phishing, identity theft, etc. BCP is the process of ensuring continued business operations even when the organizations are hit with worst disasters.

Sun’s BCP is based upon the IT service criticality. If a service is more mission critical, it is given a high priority to get it up and running as soon as possible. Bringing-up other services which are not relatively important are dependant on other factors such as time and human resources.

Even though not directly correlated, the CIO has a responsibility of finding and retaining IT related employees. Most organizations leave this part to Human Resource (HR) Managers. However, with the industry expertise of the CIO, he or she can assist the HR Managers to hire and retain the best people in the industry.

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