CIO stands for Chief Information Officer. In this FAQ, we will cover the CIO position in detail, including CIO responsibilities, CIO salaries, and more.
Among other things, we’ll learn:
- What CIOs do
- Who can become a CIO
- How CIOs differ from other IT positions, such as CTOs
- Which companies hire CIOs
- What the future holds for the CIO role
To start off, let’s cover the basics of this job position.
A Chief Information Officer (CIO) FAQ
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the CIO position:
CIO stands for…?
CIO stands for Chief Information Officer.
This is a job role present in organizations with dedicated IT departments.
Not all companies have CIOs, though this is the most popular job title for the senior-most IT leadership role in a company.
What do CIOs do?
CIOs are responsible for leading and managing a company’s technology division.
The exact responsibilities of a CIO will vary from organization, but they do tend to focus on the same general tasks.
- Implementing and maintaining IT services
- Developing digital training programs
- Cultivating a digital-first workplace culture
- Leading digital-first business initiatives, such as digital adoption programs
- Ensuring that the organization’s digital programs align with business strategy
The CIO is an evolving role and in the years ahead, it will continue to change significantly.
How is the CIO’s role changing?
CIOs are becoming more responsible for business strategy and business outcomes.
Historically, CIOs have managed IT services and systems. Today, CIOs continue to focus on IT services management, yet the focus is shifting towards the digital side of business strategy.
In the coming years, CIOs’ responsibilities will likely expand to include areas such as:
- Digital transformation and adoption
- Digital innovation
- Technology planning and investments
- Digital business strategies
In many enterprises, CIOs have already “taken their place at the executive table” – that is, they have become business leaders, rather than IT managers.
That trend will almost certainly become more pronounced in the years ahead, which means that CIOs must expand their skill set accordingly.
Who can become a CIO?
A CIO is an executive-level business leader.
The bar is therefore set high for those who want to become a CIO.
Typically, CIO job descriptions require:
- Many years of experience in IT leadership roles
- Demonstrated experience leading business projects
- A solid technical background
- A bachelor’s or graduate degree in a technical field, such as computer science
- Skills that include strategic thinking and a business-oriented mindset
CIOs are IT leaders that require a combination of both technical skills and business skills, making this position ideal for those who are interested in both business leadership and IT management.
How much do CIOs make?
CIOs usually make six figures annually.
Here are a few examples of average salaries calculated by a few leading job sites:
Naturally, the exact salary for a CIO position will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The company and the industry
- The candidate’s experience, background, and skills
- The job’s responsibilities
CIO compensation packages can, in short, vary widely from job to job. A CIO position in a small non-profit or government agency, for instance, will differ considerably from a CIO position at a Fortune 500 company, some of which can exceed half a million dollars per year.
Which companies hire CIOs?
CIOs are common in any organization with its own IT department.
Small businesses that lack independent IT departments may not have a CIO role.
Likewise, medium-sized businesses that lack C-suites may have another position, such as an IT director, but not a CIO.
However, businesses that are large enough to have executive roles such as CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs will often have CIOs.
In large organizations, CIOs may be complemented by other IT leaders, such as CTOs.
CIO vs. CTO: what’s the difference?
Enterprises with large, mature IT departments will often segment out different IT duties into separate departments, each with their own leader.
Some companies, for instance, will employ CTOs as well as CIOs.
Though every organization is different, CTOs tend to focus more on:
- Technology architecture
- Managing engineering teams
- Improving customer-facing technology
- Strategies designed to increase top-line revenue
Some have also suggested that as CIO duties have shifted towards business strategy and initiatives, CTOs have picked up duties traditionally held by CIOs, such as IT services management, IT modernization, and IT architecture.
Where can I learn more about CIOs?
There are plenty of resources online that cater to CIOs.
A few of the best blogs that offer information specifically for the CIO include:
There are also a number of other blogs specifically geared towards high-level IT professionals, such as TechRepublic. Blogs such as these can offer useful insights and perspectives on the this dynamic and fast-changing job role.