Is your CIO suffering from burnout trying to juggle all of their responsibilities, from driving strategy to managing IT responsibilities? A Deputy CIO might be the solution. We explain the benefits of a Deputy CIO in this blog.
As the role of IT organizations has expanded from traditional IT responsibilities, such as managing applications and hardware, to newer functions like helping drive organizational strategy, CIOs frequently find themselves stretched exceedingly thin.
The CIO is responsible for numerous activities, from running an efficient IT organization to participating in creating corporate strategy and leading IT strategy to enable and support the corporate strategy. The growing scope of responsibilities can be daunting to even the most experienced and capable CIO.
As a response to this challenge, many companies are exploring the role of a Deputy CIO for their IT organization. In fact, from 2018 to 2028, jobs for this role are expected to grow more quickly than average, at 11 percent, and to generate 46,800 job opportunities across the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While the role may carry a different title, the function this leader plays can add immense value to companies, both large and small.
What Is a Deputy CIO?
A Deputy CIO’s responsibilities will vary based on your organization’s needs. In general, though, this leader will be a second-in-command to your IT CIO, helping provide oversight for operations, staff, technology procurement, and providing CIO support for ongoing client communications and projects.
This person may assume interim leadership for the Quality Assurance department, the Data Center or any part of IT operations that is temporarily without a manager. In short, a Deputy CIO may fill in for the CIO in whatever capacity the CIO might need.
A Deputy CIO can bring value to your organization by:
Perhaps the biggest value a deputy CIO brings is enabling the CIO to focus their efforts “up and out.” Time is a CIOs most valuable asset, and a deputy CIO can help capitalize on that by managing day-to-day activities so the CIO can focus on organizational strategy. They can do that by, for example, cultivating relationships with business leadership, working to understand the business environment and success factors or overseeing the implementation of technology to drive and enhance business and exploring new markets.
Filling Organizational Gaps
A deputy CIO also can bring expertise, knowledge and capabilities that complement the skillset of the CIO. A confident CIO may even want to search out a deputy who could help fill their skillset gaps and help the CIO see their blind spots.
Ideally, the CIO will use this person as a sounding board when considering new ideas and initiatives, which is where complementary skillsets and perspectives can be of immense value to both the IT organization and the company. Depending on circumstances, this person might even serve as a mentor to the CIO and vice versa.
Enhancing Organizational Culture
It stands to reason your organization’s Deputy CIO should bring a culture and leadership style that matches your CIO’s approach. This allows this person to function as an extension of the CIO, covering details of priority programs, initiatives, and important projects the CIO doesn’t have time to advance. For example, the CIO might kick off an initiative in an area such as cyber security and hand over the detailed responsibility for carrying it forward to the Deputy CIO.
Enlightened leaders might also use their Deputy CIO as a one-person tactical team for thorny problems that arise. Varying responsibilities give the Deputy CIO inherited credibility within an organization. As the CIO publicly embraces these aspects of the deputy’s role, it will quickly become clear this person is aligned with the CIO and that their role is integral to the success of the IT organization.
Driving Initiatives That Lead to Organizational Success
While the CIO always maintains alignment with company vision and strategy and translates that to IT vision and strategy, the Deputy CIO drives the CIO’s vision for IT. This leader will keep the IT organization on track and ensure the appropriate processes are running to accomplish this. Through their actions, this person continually adds credibility to the CIO’s vision and communicates the voice, perspective, and priorities of the CIO and corporate objectives across the IT organization.
Build Succession Planning in With Your Deputy CIO
Succession planning is another area in which companies sometimes struggle. Properly onboarding and working closely with your Deputy CIO can serve as a way to ensure there is always someone in a clear position to assume CIO leadership, whether on an interim basis or as the well-prepared successor when a CIO moves on or retires. This person has the established trust of the organization and the experience to take the IT organization forward without missing a beat.
What to Look for In Your Deputy CIO
A Deputy CIO should be an agile, technologically astute leader with a strong business acumen. While the knowledge base and needs of each organization varies, the CIO’s right-hand person should always have the attitude of “How can I help?”
A successful Deputy CIO also can:
- Develop strong relationships with the IT managers, which is of significant value both to managers and the CIO.
- Ensure that manager’s concerns and issues have an attentive ear from someone with enough authority to address or take them to the CIO if warranted.
- Introduce new technologies in cooperation with the IT team.
- Work through complex situations so they don’t have to elevate these to the CIO.
Ensure Scalability in Your Organization’s Deputy CIO Role
Notably, this role can scale to the size, speed and complexity of any organization, small or large, from a temporary, fractional or part-time role to a full-time role.
If your organization is rapidly growing or your CIO is facing burnout from the diversity and complexity of responsibilities, a Deputy CIO could be a valuable asset to your organization.