SOCITM (Society of Information Technology Management)
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IT professionals must aspire to the CIO role or recognise that their careers may be limited says new report from Socitm Insight

Ambitious IT professionals must sets their sights on becoming their organisation’s CIO (Chief Information Officer) and not restrict themselves to Chief Technical Officer (CTO) roles which are being diminished by the de-skilling of technology.

This prediction is set out in What’s in a name? The practicalities of being a public sector CIO, a new report written and published by Socitm Insight at the end of February.

Based on a survey of 76 public sector organisations, and detailed interviews with ten CIOs in local and central government and the private sector, the report answers the questions ‘What is it that CIOs do, and how does their role, personal skills and attributes differ from those of Head of ICT or CTOs?’

In answering these questions, the report defines CIOs as digitally literate leaders who understand fully the operational environment in which their organisation works, and can build and interpret strategy at both business and technical levels. They have the skills and attributes to lead their organisations to transform and continuously improve their services particularly by making best use of technology.

CTOs, by contrast, manage the technical infrastructure and software in order to deliver an economical, efficient and effective ICT service within their organisation, to partner organisations and to the community.

The report says that individuals called ‘Head of ICT’ may operate as CIOs or CTOs, depending upon the demands their employing organisation makes of them, their own skills and behaviours, and the presence or not of others in the organisation with appropriate skill sets.

Report author Chris Head says that there are challenges for people most comfortable in a technical environment who want to take on the CIO role: ‘The role is primarily about being an agent of business change. It means having a vision of the future and the ability to translate this into both business and ICT strategies. It means a high level of engagement with the business and the ability to discuss delivery without talking ‘technical’. This can be difficult for people immersed in the technical infrastructure, not least because of the perceptions others have of them.’

At the same time, the report stresses that CIOs need a deep understanding of technology in order to identify pragmatic solutions to service issues. They may, or may not, take responsibility for the ICT service. Large organisations might have a CIO and a CTO, but smaller organisations may need to combine the roles.

What’s in a name? The practicalities of being a public sector CIO (60 pp) is free to all organisations that subscribe to Socitm Insight. The charge per copy to non-subscribers is £125 (£115 to Socitm members). It can be ordered from

Further information

Vicky Sargent, Socitm Press Office Tel: 07726 601 139  email:

Rob Adams, Socitm Press Office. Tel: 0121 214 1531 Mobile: 07726 360524

Martin Greenwood, Programme Manager, Socitm Insight

Tel: 01926 498703 or 07967 383755  e-mail:

Notes for Editors:

Socitm Insight is a subscription service to which over 500 local authorities and other public and private sector organisations now belong. It identifies and encourages good ICT management practice.

Socitm Insight has produced a series of comprehensive and detailed guides on all the major ICT themes linked to the critical issues of the day, which provide valuable advice and support for ICT practitioners.

Socitm Insight also runs the Customer Access Improvement Service, incorporating the Website take-up service and the Channel value benchmarking service.

These courses from Civil Service College cover both introductory and in-depth aspects of Accountability and Governance