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CIOs have the chance to increase the influence of their role as tech is taken more seriously in business

CIOs have the chance to increase the influence of their role as tech is taken more seriously in businessPhoto: Shutterstock

CEOs have realised IT is the key to making their organisations smarter and more effective - which means CIOs are now in the spotlight like never before.

So how has this shift changed the role of the CIO and what does it mean for the relationship with the CEO and the rest of the board?

In the past, IT was seen as "boring, grubby and complicated" with CEOs having very little involvement, according to Vicky Maxwell Davies, co-head of the CIO practice and partner at executive headhunters Boyden.

"Five years ago, CEOs wouldn't have had a clue what they were looking for in a CIO. They would probably know they were spending a lot of money on IT and they would probably feel they couldn't see where that money was going," she told

"They wouldn't appreciate that there needed to be more than just making sure the email was running and making sure payroll goes out on time," she added.

Now the rapid pace of change in technology - plus developments such as the consumerisation of IT - has put tech strategy at the top of the executive agenda.

"People know now that technology is really important. They might not understand what on Earth they're going to do about it, but that is why they need somebody who can explain it to them," Maxwell Davies said.

CIOs at heart of success

With many businesses becoming increasingly dependent on technology, a good CIO has the potential to make a huge difference to an organisation.

"World-class CIOs are critical to organisations getting that competitive edge," Maxwell Davies said. "That's how an organisation gets ahead of its peers, by being really clever with its IT."

And as companies that have a talented, highly involved CIO gain competitive advantage, the role of the CIO will become more valued and influential, according to Mark Raskino, research VP and analyst at Gartner.

"Companies where the CIO role itself is...