WSJ: CIOs must now balance tech expertise with business innovation

Andrea Park - Print  | 

While the chief information officer was initially tasked with the deployment of internal IT initiatives, the role has since expanded at some organizations to include the management of outward-facing innovation efforts.

"This is the toughest time to be a CIO, but also an exciting time," Steve Van Kuiken, a senior partner at consulting firm McKinsey, told The Wall Street Journal. "You have the challenge of being both a business strategist and a technology expert."

To represent these changes, some organizations have adjusted their executive suite. PayPal, for example, reportedly combined several IT leadership roles, including CIO, into the CTO position, held for the past three years by Sri Shivananda.

Finding this new balance between internal technology initiatives and enterprise innovation, Mr. Shivananda told WSJ, is "part of the shift in IT from a cost center to being part of the revenue line of a company," as digital technology has evolved from a business tool to a central tool for reaching consumers.

Even those that still use the title of CIO are nearly unrecognizable compared to the CIOs of just a few years ago — and to each other. "Ten years ago, if someone was a CIO you could list four basic things they do," Brian Hopkins, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, told WSJ. "Now it's more of a question of what kind of CIO are you."

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