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Redefining the CIO: Infrastructure to Innovation
The role of the CIO has changed. The success of many organizations depends on the CIO's ability to adapt to their new role as the Chief Innovation Officer.

For years the role of the CIO was to control and manage the IT department. The CIO’s responsibility was mainly to ensure the IT department was working within a budget. Back then, assembling a working system took a ton of money and time. Hardware was expensive and the firm required an army of experienced staff. It took months to develop and test a working system for the company. Now the world of IT has changed. Open source software is revolutionizing the role of the CIO.

Adapt to Survive

The dynamic nature of modern competitive markets requires firms to constantly evolve if they want to succeed. This means that a business has to innovate to remain competitive and retain customers. These demands mean that the CIO's merit is now judged on innovation rather than management of infrastructure. Modern businesses rely on innovation to increase efficiency and provide competitive advantages. The CIO is expected to cultivate a culture of innovation in the firm.

Infrastructure to Innovation

With a focus on innovation, executives should understand that innovation is not a solitary event. It is a process that begins with a multitude of ideas. The task of the CIO is to develop a streamlined process that allows innovative ideas to be nurtured from conception to fruition. This system ensures that all ideas are followed through the key stages of innovation. If an idea is not realized, rather than being discarded, it is important to keep it aside where it can be revisited later. This end to end process is known as an idea-to-cash system.

The CIO is now expected to look at the enterprise as a whole, rather than focusing solely on the IT department. This enables the executive team to provide specific requirements for the CIO to follow. The systems procured and developed by the CIO must be unified and flexible in order to meet the organization’s requirements. This holistic view enables the removal of redundancies and the streamlining of processes.

Open Source Innovation

This is where open source software comes into play. Open source enables the CIO to build upon powerful, well-tested software to develop the specific systems that the organization needs. Going the open source route saves money when compared with proprietary software or in-house development. More importantly, open source is an innovation driver. This resource empowers employees across the organization to drive innovation.

The increased scope of the CIO now means that even if IT infrastructure falls under their jurisdiction, the most important role is innovation. The world we now live in is constantly developing new technology, changing business dynamics and customer needs. This means that the CIO has to ensure the company is innovative, efficient and competitive. The new strategic role of the CIO has never been more important.

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Chris is OPIN's resident marketing scientist. Obsessed with testing and tweaking, he is constantly uncovering new patterns. His obsession with testing helps the agency gain insights for internal marketing campaigns and client projects. His unconventional methods help our readers look at business and marketing concepts in new ways.