Make way for the new CIO: The chief innovation officer

The chief innovation officer role has increased in visibility, thanks to digital transformations, which often include the two flavors of CIO working in tandem.

Make way for the new CIO: The chief innovation officer

The IT profession has long been blessed with a surfeit of acronyms, many of which have been coined in sometimes convoluted ways to retain uniqueness. But one of IT’s key, longstanding acronyms is increasingly being used to refer to an upstart, as today you’re apt to find that CIO no longer just stands for chief information officer, but chief innovation officer as well.

And, depending on whom you talk to, some with the word ‘innovation’ in their title posit that they might someday supplant the traditional CIO.

In the meantime, with the velocity of innovation and disruption increasing as data and technology become more widely leveraged in business, a solid relationship between the chief information officer and chief innovation officer is critical, says Patrick Sells, chief innovation officer at digital bank Quontic. 

“These two roles are symbiotic in nature, and I would posture that over time, the chief information officer may evolve into the chief innovation officer ultimately, in corporate America,’’ Sells says. 

Although chief innovation officers have been around for several years, the role has increased in visibility as enterprises have embarked on digital transformation initiatives, which often include CIOs working in tandem with, well, CIOs.

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