The present-day is often called “The Information Age,” but not everyone understands the reason behind it. People are generally aware of the ever-increasing opportunities to find knowledge, share experience, and obtain competence, but the information goes even deeper. To truly excel in most entrepreneurial undertakings, one must be aware of a frighteningly large number of things. They can range from rather obvious, such as one’s manufacturing capacity and cash flow, to seemingly irrelevant, such as climate conditions and political unrest. At some point, it becomes impossible to keep track of everything that is going on, which is when the Chief Intelligence Officer can become a valuable ally.
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The exact role of each C-level employee can vary according to each company’s business goals and needs. It usually involves collecting intelligence from various data points and, crucially, relaying them to the rest of the employees and C-suites. As Behenna (2010) notes, the collection of these data points is situated within the business’s tactical agenda and helps it develop its strategy based on information and knowledge. A threat that is known is preventable, and an opportunity that is known is useful. Without a Chief Intelligence Officer, these tasks could fall upon the rest of the employees and fall by the wayside in favor of more pressing projects and responsibilities.
In recent years, there has been a surge of new trends in the IT industry. Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, neural networks, and computer vision are examples of new developments that can be implemented in the enterprise. Nowadays, information and knowledge usually mean data, and to process all the available data, a human mind is not enough. Increasingly, using advanced AI-driven technologies becomes the most important responsibility for a Chief Intelligence Officer. The CIO serves as the liaison between the organization’s goals and employees and the computer’s incomprehensible output and training (Gagné, 2017). Implementing an AI solution to collect and interpret data is a complex task that requires a focused human mind. Data needs to be prepared before an algorithm can analyze it, and the results of that analysis need to be interpreted to be useful to anyone else. Moreover, the data and its interpretation must benefit the company’s values and goals, which are not something a machine understands.
That said, one must not rush to implement AI simply to have implemented it. Hammond (2017) warns against having a C-suite whose sole responsibility is to implement AI across the enterprise. They are called Chief Artificial Intelligence Officers, and the Internet seems to be much more forthcoming with articles about them than Chief Intelligence Officers. To morph a Chief Information Officer into a Chief Intelligence Officer had been a change that followed the times, and it appears that another one had happened within less than ten years. However, Hammond (2017) asserts that for the CAIO, AI solutions are the default answer to any problem, regardless of whether they solve the problem or fit the business. A genuinely professional Chief Intelligence Officer would know when to use their most powerful tools, and when not to. The entire point of having a CIO is to have a human mind governing the implementation and usage of advanced technology, and the value of that human mind cannot be undersold.
A Chief Intelligence Officer can do many things, but they all boil down to collecting and analyzing information from multiple sources. Some of that information can be of extraordinary value, and some can be utterly useless and to discern, which is which, falls within CIO’s purview. A CIO also must leverage advanced data-driven technology in a way that benefits the business. They serve as the vital human link between the raw information and the rest of the people in the company.
Behenna, A. (2010). The CIO as Chief Intelligence Officer. Web.
Gagné, J. F. (2017). Chief Information Officers will become Chief Intelligence Officers. Web.
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Hammond, K. J. (2017). Please Don’t Hire a Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer. Web.