What does a CITO (Chief IT Officer) do?


The IT industry has expanded both vertically and laterally and so has the job scope of those working within it. Whether a CIO of a non-IT organization such as a manufacturer of CPG products can be said to be working in the IT industry is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, every organization does have an IT department and the head of this department is an integral part of the C-Suite.

IT is one department of any organization that still awes and overwhelms employees who look upon it with an emotion akin to fear. But things are changing and the new-generation tech-savvy employees take IT in their stride. The CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or CITO (Chief Information Technology Officer) heads this department and is responsible for fulfilling all the IT requirements of the organization. Here’s a peek into the life of a CTO, CIO, or CITO – call him what you may.

What is CITO?

What was once called the DP or Data Processing department is now called the IT or Information Technology department. Like the name, the job scope and portfolio of this department have changed too. While earlier the DP department merely processed data internally to reduce the burden upon the employees today this department has become the backbone of every organization. Indeed, each variant of the title may have a different job profile.

For instance, a CTO or Chief Technology Officer may merely be responsible for sourcing of hardware, its maintenance, and security while a CITO may have additional responsibilities such as collection, analysis, and presentation of data. Then there are other responsibilities such as sourcing software, developing software internally, security of software and data, maintaining cloud data, and a whole lot more.

Depending upon the size of the organization and the value attached to its IT resources, there may be more than one department for what we generally refer to as IT or Technology and you may find a CTO as well as a CIO within the same organization with many overlapping functions for each of them. The two may also be hierarchical designations with a CTO being a part of the C-Suite and the CITO heading the department as Vice President – or vice versa. Designation notwithstanding, the CITO sits with the C-Suite at strategy meetings to discuss how technology can aid business strategy.

The primary role of a CITO and his staff is to make sure that the organization’s technology strategy serves its business strategy.

That said, the CIO usually has the following four faces – or VPs – working under him and assisting him in his work. These include the infrastructure in charge, the data manager, the cyber security officer, and the IT strategist. While these roles are beyond the scope of this blog, they are nevertheless worth a mention to give you an idea about the seemingly infinite scope of work of a CIO. With that let’s dive straight into the meat – what are the responsibilities of a CIO.

Responsibilities of a CITO

As a CITO you will be a part of the C-Suite. You will report directly to the CEO and participate in all strategy and decision-making activities. A big part of your job profile is to ensure that the necessary technical support is available to execute the strategy that the C-Suite creates. Given the ever-changing landscape of the technology industry, it’s hard to pin down the scope of work of a CIO. Nevertheless, here’s a snapshot:

  • Suggesting new and emerging technologies that may be beneficial for the organization as a whole.
  • Ensuring that the necessary hardware and software are available for conducting the affairs of the organization efficiently.
  • Assimilating, analyzing, and presenting data to members of the C-Suite and other officials in an easily digestible format.
  • Ensuring the security of data generated internally as well as data that enters the organization through external sources such as websites.
  • Ensuring the privacy of the personal data of employees.
  • Aiding in the smooth transition from obsolete to emerging technology with minimal downtime and loss.
  • Training, aiding, and mentoring the employees in the use of technology.
  • Aiding in the creation of a digital footprint for the organization.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance such as GDPR.

While this list is not exhaustive, it covers most of the responsibilities of the role.

How can you become a CIO?

If you are aspiring to become a CITO, you naturally need to learn to code. If that’s what you are thinking, you are only half right. Your role extends beyond coding and running a few software on a computer. It includes installation of hardware, software, maintenance and up-gradation of hardware and software, statistical analysis, strategizing, report generation, and so on. In fact, as a CIO you are expected to be knowledgeable about almost every department of the organization so that you can provide the necessary technological support, gather information, and present it according to their needs.

As far as educational qualifications go, however, a bachelor’s degree in computers or information science is necessary. This means you cannot opt out of math. Organizations looking to hire external talent for the post of CIO usually demand 10 to 15 years’ field experience or YoE.

Why do recruiters ask for YoE?

An MBA will be an additional advantage. One reason for this is that you will gain knowledge about the different aspects of business and the various departments within an organization. As a CIO you are expected to participate in strategizing sessions and the decision-making process. With an MBA under your arm, you will be better equipped to do so.

And finally, of course, you must have the aptitude to be a CIO which means you must have a keen interest not only in technology but also in problem-solving. You should also have a forward-thinking mindset and an innovative approach. Soft skills like public speaking, presentation skills, leadership, attention to detail, and good communication skills are also big advantages.

Quite a lot of required qualifications don’t you think? Yes, well after all it is a part of the C-Suite.

So that’s it. Well not quite – as we said, the job scope of a CIO is far-reaching and seemingly infinite. So if you have any questions, do ask us in the comments or write to us at contact@blogyourniches.com. You can also reach out via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google, or Quora. Just type blogyourniches into your search bar to find us.

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