Photo by Michael BocchieriGetty Images

(Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

The Secrets of CIO Longevity, Part 1

CIOs come and go, and that's not a good thing for any business. To prevent them from leaving to prematurely, court them by giving them competitive compensation and making them a central partner. Here's the story.

The value of a CIO is undisputed: maintaining critical systems, ensuring IT staff have access to the necessary resources, and designing cybersecurity measures is no easy job description. Problematically, the average CIO remains in their position for only about five years, according to the Society for Information Management. This revolving door of CIOs is detrimental to organizational productivity and innovation and can hinder long-term IT projects before they have time to get off the ground.

Continue courting your CIO

Too often, firms assume that acquiring a CIO is a one-time endeavor. The incentives and culture that brought a CIO to your firm must be preserved in order to sustain the relationship, but also adapted to meet changing desires.

  • Competitive compensation: The median CIO salary today is close to $250,000, according to, but this has done little to deter high attrition rates. One strategy some firms have employed successfully is to tie the CIO's compensation more closely to the value they provide for the firm, in hopes of providing a higher sense of accomplishment and purpose. Whether this takes the form of a performance bonus, stock options or another method of compensation, it’s worth remembering that your CIO's compensation plays an important role in cementing organizational loyalty.
  • Central partner: Even as CIOs take on new responsibilities, too many companies treat them as if their primary purpose is to keep the lights on. Firms must acknowledge that the CIO role has evolved rapidly and will continue to do so. According to CIO's "State of the CIO" report, as the role of the CIO has become more challenging and important to all areas of a business, the average tenure has also increased from 5.75 to 5.91 years. Integrating the CIO more tightly with other C-suite members, and non-technical departments, illustrates the importance and effectiveness of the position, increasing retention for those that take it on.

With technology powering more operations than ever before, a firm's ability to keep IT leadership on board has implications far beyond the IT department. Stay tuned for more secrets to stretching the CIO's tenure beyond the five-year average.

What have you done to continue courting your CIO? Is your CIO overpaid or underpaid?

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