Are CIOs Still Relevant?


A new survey finds a disconnect between how CIOs and other senior leaders perceive the job's responsibilities.

Is the role of the chief information officer losing relevance? The answer depends on who you ask.

A new survey by Tech Pro Research found a disconnect in the ways CIOs and chief technology officers and their non-IT counterparts perceive the CIO role within their organization. The majority (64 percent) of CIOs and CTOs, for example, believe the CIO role has increased in relevance over the last five years, yet only 38 percent of their executive peers agree. In fact, 33 percent of respondents outside of CIO and CTO shops believe that the CIO role is actually becoming less relevant.

The survey also found a 32 percent gap between those inside and outside of CIO and CTO offices on whether the CIO has a strong impact on technological innovation and creativity. Overall, 94 percent of CIOs and CTOs believe the CIO has at least some impact on innovation and creativity, compared with just 69 percent of their non-CIO/CTO colleagues.

There may be a disconnect in the way the CIO role is perceived in various sectors. Research released by Gartner in August suggests that government CIOs have more clout than their private sector counterparts. Seventy-six percent of government CIOs surveyed by Gartner said they have significant leadership responsibilities outside of IT. Many government CIOs also reported stabilizing or increasing budgets, allowing them to better leverage IT to drive innovation and government performance to a greater extent than their counterparts in the private sector, Gartner found.

Van Hitch, a senior advisor at Deloitte and former CIO at the Justice Department, suggests that the government CIO role is increasing in relevance, particularly as tight budgets require the IT leaders to leverage technology to innovate and transform the ways an agency does business. “CIOs need to be more efficient and effective but also have to think about not only what they do but what the agency does and transform it in a way that is innovative,” Hitch said. “It’s not easy to do, and there’s no silver bullet. The same obstacles that have made the CIO’s job difficult persist.”

Have tight budgets and a focus on innovation increased the visibility and importance of the CIO at your agency? Or is your CIO perhaps less relevant now than even five years ago?    

(Image via Cio/