So You Wanna Be A CIO? Here’s What They Look Like…

by drjim on October 13, 2008

What Does A CIO Make? What Does A CIO Do?

What Does A CIO Make? What Does A CIO Do?

If your career plans call for you to one day to become a CIO (or if you all ready are), then it would be most helpful if you knew what a CIO looked like. I mean goodness gracious, if you walked into a room of IT professionals, wouldn’t you want to be able to pick out the CIOs from the crowd?

If you know what a CIO looks like, then (if you’re not one already) you will now have a clear action plan on what you need to do to transform yourself into one. If by chance you are already a CIO, then this is going to give you a great snapshot of what all of your peers look like. If you measure up, then great – you should be sitting pretty. If you don’t, then oh, oh – now you know where you have some work to do. The numbers that we’re going to be talking about all come from the 2008 Ziff-Davis Enterprise CIO Role Survey so you know the data is fresh and probably fairly close to the truth.

Money, Money, Money: Let’s start by talking about what everyone wants to know first – how much can I expect to be pulling in for all the grief that I’m going to have to put up with when I’m CIO? In base salary, you should be expecting to be taking home about $170,000. Not too bad, eh? Well it gets even better when you figure in your bonus that you’ll be earning for completing that big ERP project on time and keeping the IT budget under control. You should be expecting a bonus of about $41,000 this year. That means that you’ll be pocketing right around $211,000 this year.

Details, Details, Details: Job satisfaction is all in the details, and this is no different for CIOs. First, let’s ask the question – who’s your boss? For 56% of CIOs the answer is the CEO (not bad; however, this means that 44% are NOT reporting to the big man…) What is your real job CIO? For 43% of you cost cutting is something that you consider to be your primary role. This is really bad news because there are a lot of other C-level executives that do this job much better than a CIO. Do you need an MBA to speak the language of business? Well, 31% of you thought that you did and so these folks went out and got themselves one of those MBA things. Finally, is this an all-boys club? Basically, yes. It turns out that only about 10% of CIOs are women. Ouch!

Purse Power: So it sounds rather girlish, but purse power is something that even the most manly of CIOs desperately wants more of. Each year a company launches many different projects. The CIO only has purse power control over a few of these projects so they are the most important to him/her. The two types of projects that a CIO is most likely to have control over are cross-functional process improvement projects (60% of CIOs have control over these) and technology adoption projects (90% of CIOs have control over these).

What Do You Do All Day?: The answer to this question turns out to really depend on what type of company you are CIO at. If you are a CIO at a big enterprise company, your top three roles are as follows:

  1. Be an adviser on how to improve business processes.
  2. Enable and execute business strategy
  3. Coach other IT executives

Now if instead, you are working at a mid-market firm, then your top three roles will be different. Here’s what they will look like for you:

  1. Be an adviser on how to improve business processes.
  2. Be a technology visionary – know what’s coming and what it means to the firm.
  3. Ensure that the company’s existing technology works and keeps working correctly.

There you have it, a CIO’s job defined in a nutshell. Now that doesn’t seem so hard now does it?

What do you think is missing from my list of what a CIO makes and does? Do you think that CIOs are getting paid enough for what they do? Do you agree with what CIOs think should be on their list of top three priorities? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sanjeev Dawalbhakta June 30, 2009 at 10:43 pm

I would re-write the role#2 for big enterprise company CIO as:
– Champion 2 or 3 top level business critical programs and closely follow them, including even attending regular meetings.

I have seen CIOs who are involved at this tactical level for a few important programs enjoy better success than others.

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Dr. Jim Anderson July 2, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Sanjeev: You make a very good point. A CIO who can point to successful projects that they have been involved in will have a much better chance of getting support for future larger projects.

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