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Know the Right C-Level Decision Maker

12 Sep, 2011 By: Carla Nasse imageSource

We’ve all heard about too many chiefs yet not enough people doing the work. Most of us probably have personal experience with that situation.  We assume we know about CEOs, CFOs and COOs.  We also know that if the top person in IT says, “No, not good on this network” that our big connected solution just got moved to the “lost deal” file. More and more we’re learning that the IT person is an integral part of our approval process if we are selling something besides hardware. But which IT person for what job?


CIO/Chief Information Officer / IT Director
Chief information officer (CIO), or information technology (IT) director, is a job title commonly given to the most senior executive in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals. Normally, the CIO will report to the CEO and is responsible for strategic planning of information technology and computer systems that will support the growth and goals of the company. This is one of the more familiar titles and most commonly found in medium to large size companies.

CTO/Chief Technology Officer
Although sometimes confused with or used interchangeably with CIO, the CTO’s function has a different focus. While the CIO is looking forward and determining strategic planning, the CTO is responsible for the scientific and technical concerns. It typically involves overseeing Research and Development (R&D) activities, and formulating long-term visions and strategies at the officer level. Essentially, a CTO is responsible for the transformation of capital - be it monetary, intellectual, or political - into technology in furtherance of the company’s objectives. They typically combine a strong technical or scientific background with business development skills. Still, a system crash keeps the CTO awake at night.

CSO/Chief Security Officer
Everyone is concerned with security. The person that lays awake at night worrying about the security of the company’s computer systems is the CSO.  The biggest concern has always been an intrusion from outside the network via the Internet.  These days the concerns range from corporate espionage or damage from a disgruntled employee, to viruses and lost laptops, PDAs and Blackberry’s. In some circles, security is security whether it’s physical or computer networks. There can be slightly different terminology.  Chief Security Architect, Chief Information Security Officer, Security Manager, Corporate Security Officer and Information Security Manager are all titles that would include these responsibilities.

CCO/Chief Compliance Officer
Chief Compliance Officer is one of the newer titles for the chiefs. With the growing number of regulatory requirements, compliance is an increasing concern.  Internal policies and procedures are also part of the mission. Most companies now have policies regarding employee use of the computer, network and Internet. There are also policies regarding the retention of files, both electronic and paper.  In some companies, CCO can also mean Corporate Compliance Officer, but the responsibilities would be the same.

CKO/Chief Knowledge Officer
The concept and planned implementation of sharing knowledge across the enterprise was relatively unheard of ten years ago.  This practice involves data mining and a means of then pushing the information out to the workers.  In addition to gathering and organizing data, the CKO must develop a plan for refining and disseminating the information as well.

CDO/Chief Data Officer
A chief data officer (CDO) is a corporate officer who is the manager for enterprise-wide data processing and data mining. The CDO typically reports to the chief technology officer (CTO) or the chief executive officer (CEO). Generally, only very large organizations have a CDO. Some of these are Citigroup, Capitol One, and Yahoo.

CNO/Chief Networking Officer
Instead of being involved with the planning or day to day operation of the company’s computer systems, the CNO more commonly is responsible for connecting people and businesses within the company, with other companies and the customers. You could say that a Chief Networking Officer is the corporate business networks portfolio manager. Along with a team, the Chief Networking Officer centrally manages the business networks environment. They strive to solve conflicts in ways that serve mutual best interests. The CNO is a direct contact, although not primary, yet will always be ready to assume the management of any partnership with any stakeholders during primary network manager absence.

Depending on the size of the organization, any one or all of these C-level positions may be on the organizational chart. The definitions here are the generally accepted roles within a company, yet every company may redefine a role or the encompassing responsibilities differently. Learn the difference per company of interest. Any one or a combination of all of these C-level executives will play a role in the ultimate decision process that can affect the outcome of their/your business success.

Task Teams of Larger Help Desks
Large help desks have different levels to handle different types of questions. Larger help desks have a person or team responsible for managing the issues and are commonly called queue managers or queue supervisors. Many help desks are also strictly rostered. Time is set aside for analysts to perform tasks such as following up problems, returning phone calls, and answering questions via e-mail. The roster system ensures that all analysts get time to follow up on calls, and also ensures that analysts are always available to take incoming phone calls. As the incoming phone calls are random in nature, help desk agent schedules are often maintained using an Erlang C calculation.

Deskside Team -  The deskside team (sometimes known as “desktop support”) is responsible for the desktops, laptops, and peripherals, such as PDAs. The help desk will assign the desktop team the second-level deskside issues that the first level was not able to solve. They set up and configure computers for new users and are typically responsible for any physical work relating to the computers such as repairing software or hardware issues and moving workstations to another location.

Network Team -  The network team is responsible for the network software, hardware and infrastructure such as servers, switches, backup systems and firewalls. They are responsible for the network services such as email, file, and security. The help desk will assign the network team issues that are in their field of responsibility.

Server Team -  The server team is responsible for most, if not all, of the servers within the organization. This includes, but is not limited to, DNS or Domain Name System Servers, (Network Authentication, Network Shares, Network Resources, Email accounts, and all aspects of server software. It also includes more advanced services such as databases, Storage or Content Management Systems, specialized proprietary services, and other industry-specific server-based applications.

Carla Nasse is a member of CompTIA who helped develop the PDI+ certification for the document technology channel.  Contact: carlanasse@hotmail.com

About the Author: Carla Nasse

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