A company’s Chief Information Officer has a lot on its plate, and always has. But unlike other C-suite titles, it seems like this one’s role changes every quarter. Toby Buckalew, CIO at OneShare Health spoke with Kyle Burt and Mike Cromwell, and gave a rundown of what the role used to be, as well as what it is becoming.
Toby sets the stage, “I've been in technology since the early 90s, and it's gone from the CIO as an emerging role being one of let's call it the head geek. You just manage technology... And it was relatively simple back then.” Back then the scope of a CIO might have been desktop support, some fax machines and networked printers. There was no wide-spread WiFi, for the most part area networks were of the local, wired variety, and telephones were very often key-systems or local IP PBX (if your office was really upscale).
The CIOs of this era were masters of their technology; security, access controls, and updates were single-sourced.
In the first decade of the millennium, things changed a bit. Toby explains, “technology has progressed and more and more companies realize the value technology can bring to the business, not just from making things easier, but also through the automation and process improvement in the value we can bring to the bottom line.”
Technology continued to advance, and the applications of an office environment become more integrated with the hardware. “[the CIO] role has become increasingly more important, and we've seen that role change in the big headlines from year to year. The first one was the alignment of technology and business, just making sure technology meets the business. And then you started hearing about the CIO getting a seat at the table. And watch, the importance of technology is now being recognized by other business leaders, and over the years we've seen that importance grow. But we've also seen the role change, not just the importance of the role, it's recognition, but also the responsibilities of the CIO.”
“In some places, CEOs are responsible for security, not just technology security, but that overflow in the physical sphere. Access control, and that leads to physical security controls. And that leads to taking control of physical security as well as electronic security, cybersecurity. And other locations might see that role expand to the facilities manager, which has happened to me at one point. In other places, you see more of an operational component as more and more companies provide online services and technology based services.”
CIOs are ideally placed to take a bigger hand in security, both cyber and physical. Access control products like door entry systems, alarms, and even cameras are just as much a part of the information technology sphere as anything else. Combining this under a single role puts the resources in the right place.
Toby continues, “you'll see the CIO become something of a product manager in which they also may else they may manage some technology products, online products, cloud product and delivery systems, not just to the internal staff, but also to the external customer. So you're seeing a big change in how the CIO's role is evolving, not just from a technology standpoint, but from an operational standpoint.”