No business can afford to ignore information technology, as it continues to transform processes in every sector of the economy. Yet the business IT landscape changes so rapidly that it can be difficult to navigate without an expert. That’s why more and more businesses are turning to the talents of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs).
Defining these roles can be tricky, particularly for businesses looking to scale up. It is not uncommon for the CIO and CTO to be the same person, and their duties can sometimes be taken on by other staff members, particularly in smaller companies. And while both can be instrumental in streamlining operations and driving growth, not every company needs to staff either or both positions.
In this two-part series, we will examine the key aspects of the CIO and CTO roles: the duties they perform, the benefits they can bring, and (most importantly) how they can be adapted for your business.
The World of the CIO
The Chief Information Officer focuses on integrating technology into systems and operations, identifying ways to increase efficiency, and aligning internal IT with your overall goals. Though they may come from a technical background, they also have plenty of experience in project management and developing short and long term strategy. They handle the IT budget and oversee any internal IT staff, as well as managing relationships with vendors.
In addition, CIOs ensure IT compliance. This is particularly crucial for businesses handling heavily regulated data, such as government contractors and those subject to HIPAA regulations. According to Tech Republic, the CIO’s compliance duties fall into two broad categories:
(1) ensuring compliance with data/information regulations including privacy, security, transparency, records retention, etc. (2) using information to monitor regulatory compliance, signal early warning of non-compliance risks, and provide the audit trail to assure compliance and to investigate violations.
In other words, the CIO is responsible for staying up-to-date on new regulations and adapting IT systems in response. They also ensure staff members follow all necessary regulations as well.
When to Find a CIO
In some ways, every company has a CIO, even if no one has the title. No modern business can survive without using information technology, which means IT decisions must fall to someone. For small businesses, this is usually the CEO.
Unfortunately, when the CEO’s attention runs short, internal IT can be the first thing to get pushed to the back burner. Over time, small inefficiencies can become major problems, disrupting day-to-day operations and leading to lost productivity.
Other companies may be generally happy with their IT tools, but need a capable executive to manage their IT department and create strategies for future growth.
If you need an experienced CIO but don’t have the budget for a new hire, partnering with a consulting CIO can be an ideal solution. At Watermark Ventures, our expert advisers can help you optimize your IT systems, devise effective strategy, and ensure you are getting the most out of your IT budget.
Check back soon for Part Two: The Chief Technology Officer