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What makes a great CIO?

4/12/2013 by


As we come to the end of another year, I am left contemplating what has happened in 2013 and, as director of professionalism at BCS, what strides the IT industry has made in establishing itself as the go-to profession for business change and strategy. In 2013, we have seen a number of changes at the top, a recognition of the importance of digital strategy, the CTO and COO operating model as well as personality changes in the IT leadership functions of both private and public sector organisations. So what makes a good CIO? In 2014, what qualities will organisations be looking for in their IT leaders?

We recently interviewed a number of high-profile CIOs as part of our UK IT Industry awards and all of them overwhelmingly felt that one of the most important qualities of a good CIO is communication. Now this may not seem like anything revolutionary but in an age where email, LinkedIn and Twitter are all prominent channels for communicating, this skill is much harder to master than some might suspect. We have all probably fallen foul to a message not coming across correctly through electronic communications, so when you imagine the level of detail required and the time this can waste, a CIO needs to make sure they get this right first time.

A CIO acts as a translator within an organisation, taking the detailed and technical elements and putting them across in terms that the majority will be able to appreciate. This can be multi-lingual, with C-level members of an organisation grappling with the implications of C++. With much of what an IT department does almost being invisible to others, I believe that those CIOs who are able to master communication will prove to be game-changers for a business. The best way to do this is to relate everything to business outcomes.

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