What’s the difference between a CIO and an “IT Director”? Isn’t a CIO (Chief Information Officer) the same as an “IT Guy” (or IT Manager)? While both execute important functions for a business, a competent CIO helps move your company to the next level and out of a reactive state. A CIO helps you build your business “success” platform.
Today, a CIO has to be part of the DNA of your company, not just fixing or selecting technology, but engaged in the core mission of your organization. A strong CIO will view and use technology as a means to driving the objectives of your business.
How? To a CIO, the technology is part of an integrated apparatus to achieve the mission and vision of the whole organization. We, at Anant, call this a “Business Platform.” This can only be maximized by integrating people to achieve such vision is to integrate people, processes, information, and technology systems from across the organization into a seamless enterprise. Departmental boundaries and areas of responsibility become irrelevant as the CIO works closely with every partner and stakeholder within the organization to achieve the higher order mission.
Is you IT guy making these assessments and engaging with the people in sales or finance to help optimize their workdays? Also, is your CTO doing the same? A CIO is not the same as a CTO.
As your organization, both inside and outside the ‘IT department,’ talks about IT, the language used will be indicative of whether or not who you hired or will hire will be more of a CIO or just the IT Guy. Does your company refer to IT related expenditures as ‘IT Spend’ or ‘IT Investment.’
Companies at the “IT spend” spectrum tend to see these as dollars as money that must be spent to keep the servers up and the business running. Conversely, companies with a “CIO” mindset tend to view the IT budget as an investment in the company. They realize that dollars available to invest are limited, and look for the best places to invest those dollars to help grow the business. Furthermore, companies with a “CIO” mindset will understand how their IT spend is allocated across business lines or products as they see a direct correlation between the investment in IT and impact to their other business lines.
We want to help companies understand what is possible with technology and how those possibilities can positively impact your business today and into the future. While it is easy to get caught up in the daily operations of keeping the emails flowing and the servers up, your CIO will focus on long-term objectives like “growing the business” by making IT a key differentiator in the marketplace, or establishing a nimble application infrastructure that cost-effectively scales to swings in demand.
By knowing the difference between these roles you are better positioned to decide how you want to address technology within your company. For example, whether to hire internally over finding an outside or an outsourced resource such as a vCIO. Ultimately, your CIO will be responsible for watching trends and paying attention to industry changes, and then equating how that impacts your company. It’s their role to recognize what technologies present threats to your company, as well as identify what technologies present opportunities. Your CIO bridges the gaps that exist between your business and your IT.
Your CIO should ideally help your organization respond ahead of time to any technology issues that you will encounter, rather than react.
How can Anant help? Many companies believe they can’t afford a CIO because of high salaries. An alternative approach is with an outsourced CIO, or virtual CIO, which is undeniably worth the investment. The cost is a fraction of what your company would pay in salary for this role to be filled internally, not to mention you would have a support team for planning or in a time of crisis, versus just one or two people on your stuff.