For other views on the role of CIO, see here.
What distinguishes a strategic, or “future-state,” CIO? Fundamentally, the CIO role encompasses three aspects: the function head (focused on operations), the transformational leader (focused on alignment, enablement and process change) and the business strategist. The strategist targets how a company creates shareholder value and serves its customers. The strategic CIO is a business leader who happens to use technology as the core tool to create competitive advantage. CIOs who primarily have an operations or transformational role look at a company from the inside out—starting with how they operate and then looking out to the customer. Strategic CIOs look at the company from the outside in and ask, How is the company perceived by customers? What is the technology platform our competitors are using to compete against us?
These three aspects highlight the trade-off between technical and strategic aspects of how IT supports and shapes business strategy of modern corporations.