definitionWhile doing a bit of research on the role of the CIO for an article I was writing earlier this week, I ran across this definition of Chief Information Officer from Gartner:

The person responsible for planning, choosing, buying and installing a company’s computer and information-processing operation.

After reading that, I had to check the calendar to make sure that I didn’t invent a time-machine and travel back to the 1970’s. Once I realized that I was safe and sound in 2014, I had to think long and hard about why an organization like Gartner would define the CIO as such.

The only logical answer I could come up with was that someone in Gartner’s web content team forgot to update that particular page sometime in the last century.  That…or the role of the CIO is in more danger than any of us realized.

Let’s assume, for sake of discussion, that the role of the CIO is, in fact, defined as someone responsible for planning, buying and installing computers and processing systems. If this is true, then CIO’s are nothing more than operational figure-heads and we’ll never see CIO’s make it into the boardroom or into any leadership position outside of IT.

But wait…isn’t that what CIO’s are fighting for? More visibility and leadership roles?  Aren’t many CIO’s and IT professionals vying for more business-focused jobs to try to bring more value through technology to companies?

It does make me wonder about the long-term value of the CIO role with a company like Gartner defining it the way they have.  There is a great deal of talk about the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) taking more and more budget from IT. There are many people talking about new roles like the Chief Data Officer (CDO) and Cheif Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO)…perhaps these people are perfectly fine with Gartner’s definition of the CIO.

Maybe these folks want to see the CIO and the IT group  remain in their operational role and stay out of the board room. Or…perhaps these people are talking about these new roles because they have to. Maybe CIO’s are perfectly fine being defined in this manner – but most CIO’s that I know and work with would be horrified to have their role defined in such a narrow manner.

For the record, my definition of the CIO is:

The person responsible for driving business value through the use of technology.  Acts as a consultant and leader at the intersections of technology, business and customer value.

How do you define the CIO role?