This article investigates the changing role of the CIO at organizational level with regard to the rise of big data and big data analytics as a potential source of innovation and competitive advantage. The paper aims to provide a theoretical contribution to the research stream on the topic, by further exploring the emergent properties and understandings related to the role of CIO as a consequence of the need to adopt advanced technologies, named to master the current unheard information growth for business innovation. To this end we present the results of a qualitative research based on grounded theory carried out on data concerning CIOs of medium and large companies from different industries in the Italian market. Finally, a substantive theory and categories are discussed, showing the role of generation gap and power of new entrants as well as of project and execution excellence on the making of identity and recognition of the CIO as relevant at the time of big data analytics.