A new Edelman CIO In Focus survey found that CIO job responsibilities are growing in unexpected ways.

In addition to managing all the traditional IT tasks, CIOs are now responsible for building trust in a company’s brand. Among respondents, 90% agreed that:

  • An organization’s reputation directly correlates to the CIOs leadership
  • CIOs play a crucial role in building trust in the company
  • A trusted CIO = a trusted business

More than half of the CIOS said they also are expected to regulate the impact of technology on society.

Edelman Intelligence conducted an online questionnaire among 406 CIOs evenly divided across the US, UK, China, and Singapore.

While they are taking on responsibilities traditionally outside the IT realm, CIOs still rank cybersecurity, data security, and delivering innovative solutions as their top priorities. Across the board, CIOs said that innovation is moving too fast both in general and in individual industries.

SEE: How to become a CIO: A cheat sheet (free PDF)

The study also considered how long an individual had been in the role to identify similarities and differences between people with less than five years of experience and those with more than 10 years. Compared to the long-term CIOs, people newer to the job were more likely to rank these qualities as important:

  • Trusted advisor/consultant/strategist – (23% vs. 15%)
  • Disrupter/innovator – (15% vs 10%)
  • Thinker/problem-solver – (14% vs 5%)

People who had less time in the CIO role ranked “Innovating new products and services” as the number two priority while more experienced CIOs ranked that responsibility eighth. Edelman also found that long-term CIOs tended to put short-term gains over long-term benefits.

Interestingly, CIOs in each country viewed their roles differently:

  • American CIOs: A traditional and more siloed view, with skills focused on IT capabilities
  • UK CIOs: An evolving role needing strategic thinking and consulting, with skills around driving innovation
  • Singapore CIOs: A modern and evolving view, with skills around driving innovation and mentorship
  • Chinese CIOs: A modern and evolving view, with skills around driving innovation and crisis management

Edelman asked the CIOs to pick one phrase to describe their work. Twenty-seven percent of American leaders put “trusted advisor” at the top of their list,with “IT expert” second at 26%. CIOs in the UK and Singapore picked “IT expert” at 45% and 29%, respectively. “Trusted advisor” came in a close second at 28%. In China, “influencer” was the top choice at 25% with “trusted advisor” next at 24%. “Thinker/problem-solver” was at the bottom of the list in each country. That role might need to move up higher in the list if CIOs really want to keep up with the pace of innovation.

The Edelman survey included CIOs in telecoms, media and technology, government, charity, and education, professional services and finance, energy and utilities, manufacturing, construction and engineering, retail, consumer goods, healthcare and pharma.

Edelman Intelligence found that CIOs with fewer years in the role described their responsibilities as more diverse than people who had been in the job longer.
Image: Edelman CIO In Focus 2019