Have you met your Chief Information Officer (CIO)? It's time that you do.

To become better acquainted with the members of the C-Suite, each week we’ll be introducing you to a different officer and identifying the role they play in helping to cultivate innovation and help employees work smarter within the enterprise. Last week we met the chief executive officer who is responsible for driving a company in the right direction. As we know, taking the right path requires the right information. The right information is a product of setting the appropriate vision, direction, guidelines, policies, planning, coordination and oversight for information technology of the executive offices, and the entire organization. This week, we’d like to introduce you the Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Improving Access to Information

As the name implies, the CIO manages the implementation of useful technology to increase information accessibility, availability and integration. It’s easy to get CIOs confused with chief technology officers (CTOs), but the distinction between them can be quite clear: CTOs (whom we will meet later in our series) develop new technologies to expand and evolve a company’s capabilities, for internal or external purposes, while CIOs are responsible for the processes and practices supporting the flow of information.

Social, Mobile, Cloud -- Just Another Day for a CIO

What’s on a CIOs plate on any given day? Cloud, mobile and social -- to name just a few of the different and most popular channels/devices through which company information flows. CIOs are concerned about security and the integrity of the infrastructure that manages sensitive network data.

In many cases, it is the CIO who makes the case for BYOD or helps restrict the types of devices used to access the company network. As a result, the degree to which employees feel empowered may rest with the CIO. Obviously, it’s not an easy position to be in, so the more educated and aware they are about a company’s culture, the easier it can be to make the decision that works best.

In this infographic, by Wikibon, the varying roles of the CIO are explored. It also serves to show the multiple areas on which a CIO must focus his/her attention.

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Influence the Flow of Information

Chief Information Officers must also keep up to date on the policies governing a company’s information and make sure that it is not only properly secured, but that the appropriate controls are in place so that only authorized persons can access it. CIOs are usually at the table, along with general counsel, to discuss e-Discovery applications and data collection, review and destruction strategies.

Additionally, the CIO oversees the IT department, which houses many of the most notorious characters within an organization. IT professionals are usually stereotyped for being unhelpful and hard to talk to, but the right CIO can help facilitate a culture of helpful and responsive tech support.

With so much on a CIO's plate, creating a culture where information can flow freely and knowledge is shared between departments -- rather than hoarded -- can work in their favor. It’s far easier to manage security across multiple devices and applications when you understand why certain employees are using specific devices or applications. CIOs, with support from the CEO can make it so employees are encouraged to share insight behind their actions, allowing processes to accommodate and evolve alongside emerging technologies and their users’ behaviors.