Tuesday, October 6, 2015

(The Big Disrupt) IT: CIO’s – Taking change on the chin?

We’ve written much about the role of CIO and the challenges they face but it seems like CIO’s are finally adjusting to the wild and radical change regarding the nature of their role as new technologies such as the internet of things take shape.

We’ve often said that CIO’s are arguably the most relevant members of C-suite yet the most in danger of becoming the most obsolete as the CIO’s find themselves in a position to innovate and add to the business but also undermined by the spread of IT usage under their nose which often leaves them having to pick up the pieces of IT failures largely not of their making or in the worst case scenario, pack their office into a box.

However, CIO’s are definitely in the ascendancy as they have tended to add business value and drive innovation for their organizations rather than fall victim to the winds of change which to some extent still threatens their position. With organizations becoming more data driven than ever and more willing to embrace technologies thanks to an ever changing consumer habits, smart CIO’s have seen this as a chance not only to add value to the business but as a way to position IT as key imperative to the business as getting IT wrong can cost a company millions in lawsuits and reputational damage at the hands of embarrassing news reports.

However, the main reason CIO’s have become increasingly important is that every company you can think of is conducting business in the digital space and are looking to become faster, more agile and responsive to customers and see technology as a number one way to get there which presents CIO’s with a great challenge and even greater responsibility as the failure to do so can leave them lagging behind competitors who are more or less trying to do the same thing but faster.

This has seen an explosion of new roles dedicated to fostering this digital transformation that compliment CIO’s but certainly overlap and in some cases compete with their role. If anything confirms this fact it would be that Mark Chillingworth, UK editor of CIO magazine took a somewhat philosophical position of welcoming CTO’s and CDO’s to their annual CIO summit but made it a point to clarify that “we (I presume CIOs with an applause line penciled in) should be looking at a future where the CIO and CTO are distinct”[1].

This should be no shock given he heads a magazine solely focused on CIO’s and him being a proponent of a well held position that the proliferation of  CTO’s, CDO’S and CSO’s exist because CIO’s dropped the ball on the digital transformation and organizations across the board have had to basically give responsibilities to CTO’s and CDO’s CIO’s should be managing. This argument is pretty convincing and is held a number of CIO’s even though even when they see CTO’s and CDO’s as lifesavers who have taken hefty responsibilities of their already jam packed plate.

Nontheless, CIO’s have embraced their perceived shortcomings and are definitely set to become unofficial COO’s in their organizations as technologies such as the internet of things will ensure that organizations become more IT dependent than they already are.

In sum, it wasn’t that long ago when every business or tech blog or site (including us) was convinced that CIO stood for “career is over” but increasingly CIO’s have seen their apparent death of their relevance to their as a way to prove their worth and seems to be better for the challenge.

[1] M. Chillingworth, 2015, It’s time to be a customer centric CIO, http://www.cio.co.uk/blogs/editor-in-chief/its-time-be-customer-centric-cio-3625934/

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