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Client Question: What is a Chief Butterfly Officer (CBO)? 

Selected Syndicate Member Reactions

  1. Tom Austin“…this title could be industry specific, such as, Museum of Science, the CBO could be in charge of sustaining and growing their live butterfly lab.”
  2. Toby Bell“…this title could be related to chaos theory and therefore associated with being a strategy officer.  Just as chaos theory describes the climatic result of a butterfly’s wing creating a small force that becomes a greater force elsewhere, we know that the advent and spread of online opinion can have a devastating effect on businesses. The CBO role is both recognition of this environment and an opportunity to pivot more quickly towards outcomes in light of analytics and awareness.”  

We think both of these initial reactions are somewhat correct.  We are seeing a growing list of new C-level titles within organizations to better market specialization.  IT is no exception, however, we are seeing many Chief Information Officers (CIO) adapting their titles and roles amidst a world of branding, commoditized technology infrastructure, dynamic data needs and ever expanding C-suite titles and functions. A CBO could either be laboratory specific or combine digital transformation, strategy, risk management, marketing analytics, and corporate communications in some fashion. His/her roles being to evaluate threats and opportunities related to disruption or reputation and manage a team to address them.

Elevator Answer:

Due to reputation management and digital transformation not only for IT but for the entire organization, CBOs are probably CIOs at the forefront of innovation, disruption and reputation. Subjectively, if you are a Chief Digital, Growth or Strategy Officer why intentionally muddy the waters.

Historical Context:

The first mention of CIO was in the 1981 book, entitled,  Information Resource Management: Opportunities and Strategies for the 1980s.  The authors envisioned CIOs sharing power equally with Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and Chief Financial Officers (CFO). This vision proved prescient for a time. The CIO role caught on as technology consolidated and networking ushered in employee collaborations. Empowering CIOs to promote technology initiatives and strategies to their CEOs and CFOs. Ultimately gaining the perception within their organizations for possessing IT competence. Their influence and importance waned due to the growth of data analytics and the ever expanding use of apps, cloud computing and micro services. Now CIOs must be business astute to compete with a wide range of new C-Suite titles and responsibilities, such as, Chief Data or Digital Officers.


Much like present-day software design thinking and development practices, the day-to-day duties of a CBO focuses on short-cycle outcomes that will meet customer, employee, investor and organizational needs.  CBOs must be able to create a customer centric and UX mindset across all of IT and their organization.  To deliver and support dynamic business models and strategies.  CBOs are not looking backwards to replicate what he/she did in the past or in other roles but focus on digital transformation or reputation management which does not originate from a box, cloud or service provider.

What Do You Think?

Author Disclosure

I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I have no vested interest in any of the products, firms or institutions mentioned in this post. Nor does the Analyst Syndicate. This is not a sponsored post.