Latest IDG research: Strategic CIOs happier and better paid
Human Resources

Latest IDG research: Strategic CIOs happier and better paid

In the dark old days of IT, the CIO was seen as a deeply technical individual leading a team of geeks and technicians somewhere in the background of an organisation. That picture has changed gradually (yet profoundly) over the last few years, a fact which is clear in many organisations, and strongly underpinned by the latest IDG 2017 ‘State of the CIO’ survey based on feedback from 646 IT leaders.

The CIO now comes in three distinct types: strategic, transformational and functional. This year half of respondents identified with the transformational CIO role (up 5% from last year), 31% of respondents classified their role as strategic (up 3% from 2016) while the rest saw themselves as functional. 

This gradual transition from a purely functional position to a more strategic one makes CIOs happier and also means they’re better paid. This year 71% of stra­tegic CIOs categorised their work as rewarding compared to only 46% of CIOs still saddled with mostly functional duties.  


This makes it crystal clear what direction CIOs need to develop in to thrive in their careers. Survey results show compensation for strategic CIOs came in at over $100K more than their functional counterparts. Specifically, strategic CIOs earned on average $319,470, transformational CIOs earned on average $251,210, while functional CIOs earned $205,908.

This gradual change looks set to continue with CIO duties due to become more strategic over time. In the next three to five years respondents believe they will spend far less time on functional duties than they do now. They envisage, in future, they will spend 7% of their time on these activities compared to the 20% they now spend (or they 27% they spent last year).

These changes are thought to arise from developments in automation and the continued improvements in the bimodal role. This allows CIOs to better concentrate “on higher-value, high visibility activities” rather than simply keeping the lights on.


Yet the challenges of balancing day-to-day activities with more strategic tasks never goes away. And nearly three quarters of respondents (72%) acknowledge it’s a struggle to deliver the need for business innovation along with operational excellence.

The full State of the CIO report looks in detail at the role of the CIO now and in the future. It addresses how this position will continues to intersect with the wider business and includes specific feedback on how the CIO interacts with increasingly important Line of Business. Download the full report here.

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