Evolution of the CIO: The real story

CIOs were always meant to be strategists, but the position is changing in interesting ways. Here are three new roles that CIOs are beginning to take on.

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The conversations swirling today about the evolving role of the CIO typically start from a flawed historical premise. Many contemporary writers and analysts simply do not understand what a CIO was meant to be when the role was first created in the early 1980s.

Prior to that time, the practice of IT in large enterprises was a hodgepodge of tactical projects primarily aimed at automating back-room processes. The term “chief information officer” was coined in 1981 by William Synnott, vice president of data processing at the Bank of Boston, who argued that IT was strategic, not just a means to reduce costs, and should be examined and deployed from an enterprise perspective. Before then, there were no executives anywhere responsible for refocusing IT on strategic enterprise initiatives. The CIO role was created to fill that void.

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