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The New CIO and Chief Innovation Officer

By Emily Hunsperger

A typical Chief Information Officer (CIO) is in charge of the IT needs of a company, including (but not limited to) creating business value through technology, managing data, strategic planning, and systems architecture. Over the last few years, the CIO role has changed significantly to resemble the responsibilities of a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO), whose primary objective is to drive innovation in the midst of digital transformation.

CIOs are increasingly focused on developing change competency, getting buy-in, and allocating resources across departments. In a recent study, 72 percent of CIOs acknowledged that balancing business innovation and operational excellence is an ongoing challenge. With technology and data at the epicenter business innovation, more and more CIOs will transition into CINO positions to more effectively drive change. Yet, driving the next frontier of AI, IoT, analytics, robotics, and mobility will require more than technology chops. CIOs must hone their organizational change management skills.

CIOs have played a key role in reinventing the way companies do business with new technologies. As new technologies are adopted to increase organizational performance, a strong CIO can consider the long-term lifecycle of new technology investments and create a roadmap for future growth. As executives are hiring and empowering CIOs into innovation roles, it is important to identify a leader who can increase collaboration and encourage creativity across the organization — including beyond the IT department.

Simply swapping “information” for “innovation” in the title doesn’t create change. CIOs transitioning to CINO positions must welcome the challenge of driving a long-term vision for innovation, and they must quickly establish credibility with sharp communication skills and cross-functional relationship-building. The CIO advantage to innovation is a deep understanding of how new technologies can be adapted into an organization and experience with scalability. As the world of business continues to transform, CIOs are uniquely positioned to accelerate innovation.