01. Introducing the CIGO

“The title CIO offends, delights, frightens, and irritates. Those who dislike the title consider it both presumptuous and an invasion of the turf of the CEO and CFO. [But], it is becoming increasingly clear that information is a corporate asset that has to be managed by a top-ranking executive.”   CIO Magazine, September 1987 (First Issue)

“The best candidate for the position is not so easily determined. The CFO is a possibility. Until the ’70s, the CFO in most companies was the CIO, because the answers to many business questions were found in the organization’s accounting systems. This scenario changed, however, when large amounts of operating information were no longer within the CFO’s purview.” Datamation, 1984

“Appointing a chief information officer also raises the question of who owns databases – those who maintain them or those who produce them?” Modern Office Technology, 1984

As IT moved into the mainstream in the 1980’s, we debated who should be in charge of information. The CIO emerged and dominated, but 30 years later most organizations seem to be rudderless. The most critical questions about our information assets go unanswered. A cursory glance at the news on any given day provides ample evidence of this.

We have had 30 years to solve this problem. We have not.

At the Information Governance Initiative (IGI), we believe that we need a new senior executive charged with owning and coordinating the solution to our complex and overlapping information challenges—an executive with the ability and authority to connect the dots between problems that are currently mostly dealt with in isolation. How does security connect to electronic discovery? How does retention connect to big data? How does information’s upside connect to its downside?

We call this role the Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO).

Some Background

Information Governance Initiative Facets of Information Governance

Information governance is a coordinating function with specific delegated authority for most information activities at an organization.

In some cases, this authority may be minimal and more like influence. In fact, in a RACI Matrix, an IG office or function might only be Informed or Consulted when it comes to some information activities: enterprise architecture, for example. Conversely, for other activities, the IG office would own the Approver or Responsible role (privacy, e-discovery, or even analytics, for example). We certainly do not believe that the IG office should be (or can be) an all-powerful information overlord, but surely it has become obvious to all of us that a clearinghouse for data value and risk issues is needed.

On the leading edge there is a glimmer of this IG function embodied in the shiny new Chief Data Officer role, although CDOs often limit their focus to structured data and have little or no risk management mandate. In organizations that do not have this or a similar role, we see no reason why a Chief Information Governance Officer could not (or should not) exist.

We propose this warily, as it is simplistic to believe a new C-level title will solve anything on its own. In fact, in the past couple of decades we have seen some of these titles amount to little more than an empty office and a PR bump. Even with this knowledge and caution, we do believe that the idea of a C-level role for IG at least helps to bring attention and focus to the current, vast information leadership gap. Our Co-Chair colleague Jason R. Baron made this point in a LTN column, noting that the Sedona Conference has also advocated for the CIGO role.

Furthermore, at the IGI we do not believe that IG is simply an outgrowth, shift, or rebranding of any one of the individual facets listed in the graphic. Rather, we believe it is a new discipline that of course builds on the disciplines it coordinates, but one that also represents a major evolutionary shift in how organizations understand, use, and well, govern, their information. More specifically, it is not a rebranding or retitling of the Records Officer or other senior records management role. Some of these professionals may of course have the requisite breadth of management, technology, and legal expertise and absolutely should apply for the job of CIGO.

Go to the next Chapter.


This publication is possible through the generous help of the leading providers of information governance products and services that are Supporters of the Information Governance Initiative.

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