It’s no secret that the traditional roles of CIOs are changing. Steady numbers of CIOs are reporting to the CEO, and 64 percent are on their companies’ executive committees, according to CIO Magazine’s 2015 State of the CIO. CIOs are addressing and answering questions about security, innovation, and countless other issues.


“Business leaders increasingly expect the CIO to lead corporate-wide innovation projects and to help develop new products and services,” CIO Magazine reports. “Meanwhile, the CIO who fails to keep the hackers out or the email flowing is in big trouble.” Those who lead IT in business are in a unique position to lead change and growth in business if they employ the right strategy. “Sixty-four percent of CIOs say that their CEO consults with them frequently about strategy,” according to CIO magazine. “Most CIOs have the proverbial ’seat at the table’ for business strategy discussions.”


So, how does a CIO create a strategy? Start by thinking big.


Randy Bean, writing for the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal, suggests taking a step back at this stage. “Organizations would be well served to break from accepted dogma and apply fresh thinking as they consider how best to align their resources, capabilities, and people to make wise use of their data,” Bean writes. “There is no single playbook or set of common practices that apply universally to all businesses. Each business has its own culture, customers and data assets which are unique to them.”


Then, learn as much as possible about the technology that makes the industry tick, applying what you’ve learned to consider how technologies can guide business growth. “Be a technical guru and thoroughly understand the industry,” writes Vala Afshar for the Huffington Post. “CIOs need to know as much about the business and industry as the business unit leaders… while maintaining adept knowledge of the established technology vendors and the ever-changing array of new entrants. CIO success is ultimately measured by business success, not technology success.”


Meanwhile, plan for delegating continued strong operational support. “Keeping the mélange of on-premise, cloud, enterprise, and mobile technology healthy can be a challenge, especially in large, complex enterprises,” Afshar writes. “CIOs who have to spend too much time on operations at the expense of strategy are headed for irrelevance.”