The CIO – Chief Information Officer – has been in use as a term since the early 1980s, and it continues to grow in popularity. Especially with increasing proportions of a business’ operations being performed in a digital space, we now see more CIOs than ever. The duties associated with the position remain slightly murky, however, occasionally blending with those of a CTO or a CDO. So if you’re an aspiring CIO or if your company is looking for one, what are the most important qualities and skill sets to look for?
Overall many of the skills a CIO needs are the same as other C-suite executives as their main duty will be managing people and functions. There is also the added dimension of managing the digital processes that allow a business to run and to effectively utilize information. Here are some of the most important skills a CIO has to possess.
Knowledge of the business and its goals
To think that a CIO needs only to have technical skills would be wrong. All moving pieces in an organization ultimately support the goals and mission of the business, and a CIO is no different.
Ability to make connections and a diplomatic demeanor
Business technology will touch every area of the organization, and the CIO oversees all the company’s digital tools. Therefore their decisions will have a direct impact on every department, and they should be able to liaise responsibly with those parties.
An impeccable knowledge of IT and the general technical landscape
Though many of the CIO’s skills need to be people oriented because of their position as a C-suite executive, they must also be informed on all the latest developments in business technology and the digital tools that will serve the company.
Ability to translate tech jargon into plain English
This is an important component of the CIO’s ability to make connections among departments. Because they are responsible for all digital tools and business technology, they must be able to both understand the technical pros and cons of those tools and explain those to other decision makers.
Crisis and change management
Changing and adopting new technology in an organization is inevitably a stressful process, and there is often lots of pushback. The CIO has to know how to effectively manage the concerns of all involved parties to make the transition as smooth as possible.