IMO, as simply said as possible – to align the long range plans of IT with the corporation’s long range plans.
Any CIO that spends time dealing with what goes on in IT today, next week, or even next month is doing the job his underlings should be doing.
New technology takes time to research and implement. Often companies have corporate plans that stretch 3 – 5 years into the future. CIO’s need to understand where the technology implemented today has weaknesses or gaps in being able to deliver the systems necessary for the company to reach it’s future long term objectives. To do this effectively without breaking the bank, the CIO also has to guide his staff to right-size the solutions for the problem. Kind of like insuring someone doesn’t try to drive a tack with a sledge hammer. Conceptual knowledge of what is a tack, a small hammer, and a sledge hammer is important to having this insight. I don’t believe a CIO should dictate specific technologies though, but to guide and facilitate his staff to make the proper recommendations.
How did I do?
Here’s some points I have posted on my wall about the role of the CIO:
Align with major enterprise objectives. Every technology initiative must be clearly tied in a provable way to business value.
Because many major business objectives are dependent upon technology, the CIO must have a voice at the table at which key decisions are made.
With technology at the intersection of a business, the CIO has the responsibility to understand a business’s complexities, influence executive peers, and present technology strategy in terms the business can understand.
Technology leaders are agents of change. Transition is our stable state.
Communication and relationship building are equally as important to IT leadership as technology skills.
Successful technology leadership must strike a balance between competing forces: short vs long term value, technology vs business focus, leading vs enabling.
The CIO is responsible for cultivating technology leadership at all levels of the organization.