The Multidimensional CIO

Chief Irritation Officer. OK, so this isn’t the most flattering dimension of the CIO, but it certainly is important. Every organization needs a strategic irritant: Someone who challenges, yet respects, the status quo, striking a balance between what’s technically possible and what’s economically feasible.

Many opportunities in the future will emerge from new business uses of IT, and the CIO is in the perfect position to broker change.

Chief Identity Officer. Identity management is a capability to optimize the flow of information to partners, customers, and employees. CIOs should know who the right person is, and provide that individual with the right information in the right form in the right place at the right time to drive the right outcome (Right6). This is increasingly a marriage of IT and business.

It’s largely a CIO function to put in place the identity management capabilities necessary to improve the efficiency of the workforce and customer action.

Chief Inoculation Officer. The news is full of stories about hackers, worms, and phishing expeditions and they’re a CEO’s nightmare, both politically and financially. They reduce confidence in every aspect of the business and can cost CXOs their jobs.

Applying the appropriate perimeter security capabilities to not only inoculate the organization against these threats but also recover from these incursions is a critical dimension of the CIO.

However, the security challenge on the horizon lies well beyond perimeter security. It’s about creating and maintaining multilayered, context-aware, business-function based security.

Logic-based security must be built in, not bolted on. It requires a strong collaboration between technology and business processes, and must be fed by new, differentiated content.

Finally, security must be transformed from a cost component to an empowering one. Paired with identity management, security will have to provide a seamless flow of content required not only between different enterprises, but also within a single company.

These new roles for inoculation fall to the domain of the CIO. He or she will need new security processes, tools, and techniques, along with an intimate knowledge of business operations, to properly manage risk and avoid becoming part of the next security horror story.

Chief International Officer. In the updated and expanded edition of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), Thomas Friedman points out that every enterprise must consider the international implications of a flat world.

In the first years of this century, the world got connected and business began to flow across geographic, political, and economic borders. While the primary responsibility for international relations might fall to the COO, the challenge of managing the business and technical infrastructures necessary for the global enterprise rests at least partly with the CIO.

This is no trivial undertaking. Each country has its own laws and set of risks, and infrastructure capabilities in a single region can vary by as much as 1,000%. Managing an international infrastructure requires the CIO to be part lawyer, part technician, part politician, and all businessperson. This isn’t an unrealistic demand; CIOs at some second-tier organizations are already meeting it.