Chief information officers are top-tier executives who oversee all information technology (IT) and computer systems for their organizations. Chief information officer jobs are found in both private and public sectors. The basic functions of people in chief information officer jobs are to move the strategic goals of their organizations forward through the best use of technology. Within different organizations, there can be differences in the exact duties of the chief information officer (CIO). Some companies hire consultants to perform the role of chief information officer.
In large organizations, chief information officer jobs typically are high-level positions. Chief information officers with many employees on staff delegate much of the day-to-day operations to information technology managers and specialists. The chief information officer plans for the organization’s information technology needs, sets the direction and maintains budgets. In a smaller organization, the chief information officer might get involved at a more detailed level, such as allocating resources, resolving specific system problems or establishing processes. Generally, chief information officer jobs are more strategic than technical.
Some organizations, especially very large ones, might have both chief information officers and chief technology officers. Some of the duties of the positions can overlap, but chief information officers generally oversee the IT-related strategies for their organizations. The technology executive role generally is more responsible for the computer infrastructure. In technology-focused companies, the person in this role might be heavily involved in product development. In other organizations, the two roles are combined into a single position.
Fractional CIOs are chief information officers who work on contract, often on a part-time basis, supporting smaller organizations that might not be able to afford another executive on the payroll. A fractional chief information officer is consulted on the strategic directional decisions for the organization as they relate to information management and technology, but he or she usually is not involved in day-to-day management or operations. Fractional CIOs might work for themselves or for consulting companies that place them with different corporations and organizations. In essence, the purpose of a fractional CIO is to provide the strategic information technology direction that many organizations need at a lower cost.
Becoming a chief information officer requires strong management and leadership expertise. Being able to lead others to implement a vision is important to people in chief information technology jobs. A person in this top leadership position usually is part of an organization’s overall leadership team and is responsible, with the team, of implementing the vision, mission and values of the organization.