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The Death of the CIO

Updated on July 21, 2016

Approaching Expiration

The CIO (Chief Information Officer) role has been on a steady decline for the better part of a decade; slowly battled out by the likes of the CDO (Chief Data or Chief Digital Officer) and the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). The meteoric rise of the CIO is nothing short of remarkable. In just under two decades the CIO role went from being regarded as an illegitimate C-level position in which "CIO" was interchangeable with "IT Manager," to being a full-blown executive position in which a CIO was a valuable part of a company's strategic direction. The reason for this change is due largely to the extreme boost in the use of technology in a business environment in the late 80's and throughout the 90's. Now, fast-forward past the dot-com explosion and the growth of consumer dependence on technology, and we're suddenly entering an era where the role has become antiquated. So what caused this?

The cause is many-fold, but the best place to start is with the adoption of the digital enterprise business model. Many companies have fully transitioned to digital work-spaces, meaning more and more of the digital integration which a CIO would typically control is now becoming common place. This means that technological strategies for marketing, consumer relations, and data management became more commonplace than the previously integral strategies of digital adoption. In layman's terms, it's now assumed that a company will (within a reasonable time frame) adopt and adapt to new technologies for performing business functions. For a CIO that was well-adjusted to a world where strategic development depended largely on ensuring that the newest technology was being employed to meet the companies goals, it is somewhat foreign to transition to working instead on employing strategies of digital advertisement and consumer interaction, leaving many to feel shell-shocked at the quite sudden change of responsibility. Thus, the introduction of the CDO or CMO, as both positions are rather congruous in the sense that today marketing and data management are almost entirely digital affairs.


Now, this doesn't spell doom for every employee that is a CIO, but rather the role itself. If a CIO can transition into the new responsibilities set by the increasing need to function as a strategist for varying different roles from the previously intended, then there is a good chance of continued success. However, this still means there is a likely transition from holding a CIO title to holding a title such as CDO or CMO, which alone can be daunting when one has held a particular seat for a great length of time. Many CIO's have had a hard time with this transition, however, and have subsequently been replaced with newer creative thinkers who have a vested interest in applying the adopted technology for an assortment of purposes rather than just employing the technology and leaving it up to other departments to oversee their use.

This is quite obviously a sad day for those particular employees, but an increased set of responsibilities for the overseer of an IT department means that a business stands to profit from expanded returns with less output. In line with the exponential advance of technology is the exponential increase of changing business tactics, meaning the transition away from the CIO role only stands to reason. In a world where everyone has a handheld computer, it doesn't take as much to convince people to take on new technology, whereas in the 90's when the CIO role really blossomed, concocting strategies to convince people to employ newer digital opportunities was a much more involved task. Time marches on.

Paperwork is Now Screen Work.

The new tools of the trade..
The new tools of the trade.. | Source

Out With the Old, In With the New

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why companies are moving away from the CIO role. This has happened to thousands of typical business roles over time, and it will continue to happen as technology and strategy changes. One of the only ways to mitigate the fallout of the changes in the way business is conducted is to learn to adapt. It's like technological Darwinism. Here's to hoping that some of these impacted CIO's either learned to adjust or had a large enough savings account to survive!

The Lamentation of a CIO

This situation can certainly be one of frustration.
This situation can certainly be one of frustration. | Source

CIO vs. CDO or CMO

Which do you feel will likely come out ahead in this transition?

See results


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