The ubiquitous computing environment of smart devices and cloud services makes a chief information officer, or CIO, a key position at most companies these days. However, with a position that covers as much ground as being the person in charge of information technology, it’s often tough to figure out what responsibilities can be delegated and which need a personal touch. Here is a guide to some of the bigger duties.
Setting Bigger-Picture IT GoalsThe most important job for a CIO is making the decisions about technology for a company at the highest levels, moving strategically to keep the company competitive in the current workplace. While a good CIO collects information from subordinates before rendering a decision, keeping the responsibility for making the final determination in the CIO’s wheelhouse is a crucial way to maintain a cohesive policy. Too many people involved in these decisions just slows down the decision-making process, and in a fast-paced field like IT, delays can come with a steep price tag.
Building a Cloud StrategyOne example of an area that a lot of companies are wrestling with at the moment is the new arena of cloud computing. Cloud computing is the use of off-site, internet-accessed storage, software, and even computing resources. Cloud brings with it some attractive advantages, like reduced infrastructural investment in exchange for monthly fees, which is useful in an area that depreciates as quickly as tech. Evolving regulations will govern which parts of the cloud strategy the CIO can delegate and which ones need to be personally supervised, but however you roll out the strategy, the CIO needs to be involved at the highest levels.
IT ManagementThe CIO is a hybrid position in many ways. While its responsibilities benefit from a hand familiar with the intricacies of technology and engineering, the duties also require a lot of management expertise to pull off properly. An expert CIO takes control of his or her staff through bold higher-level direction, guiding his or her subordinates with a clear vision. At the same time, setting up a chain of responsibility is important to running a staff larger than a handful, with middle management making direct contact with the workers and facilitating the movement of grand ideas to practice.
Hiring and ContractingAs a company grows, its need for IT personnel will change as well. The CIO sets higher-level hiring goals and supervises the expansion, or occasional contraction, of those staffing levels in response to a changing IT landscape. Though the CIO should set the hiring goals and handle the hiring of higher-level positions, it is of course advisable to farm out the acquisition of day-to-day workers to the management team directly under them. If a company project goes beyond what the firm can muster in terms of workers, it also becomes the CIO’s responsibility to look into contracting out the work.
More important than any specific decision, however, is the need to keep the CIO’s office and remit in line with the company’s culture and skills. Finding the right balance might take some time, but it will result in increased performance across the board.