Reinventing the CIO Role
Face it: enterprise IT is shifting away from the client-server model environment. Computer work now is distributed and fragmented, and it happens everywhere on a diverse and rapidly changing set of infrastructure and devices.
This is a giant shift, every bit as transformational as the shift from mainframes to PCs in the 1980s. And just as then, it means big changes for CIOs.
CIOs used to totally control the IT process. Now they have to embrace a role that’s less of a controller of hard assets and more of a facilitator of business goals.
The good news is that CIOs who ride the wave will wind up with vastly increased influence and visibility in their companies. The bad news is that mastering the changing tide requires a new set of skills.
The new CIO will still manage IT assets — in-house, outsourced and rented. But gurus say that smart CIOs will emphasize that middle word in their titles: Information.
In this era of big data, information is abundant. The trick is giving the information shape and context. Then, getting it where it needs to be, when it needs to get there. With information, as with the rest of business, time is money; reducing the friction with which information moves ultimately translates to the bottom line.
New-style CIOs still have to understand IT. But just as important, they need to truly understand the business of their companies.
Forrester Research analyst Alastair Behenna, writing in CIO UK, underlined that the CIOs who prosper going forward will be the ones who understand their businesses and who also grasp how digital platforms revolutionize the very way their businesses operate.
By helping those businesses make informed choices with financial impact, the new-style CIO will stand at the center of a company’s decision-making, not at the periphery, or as a utility.
Likewise, the research organization International Data Corporation (IDC) flatly predicts that within two years, more than 70 percent of CIOs will change their primary role from directly managing IT to being an innovation partner.
That is exciting. This repositioning will let CIOs become frontrunners in organizational change management; that’s a big shift from dismissive perceptions that IT is where people go to get bandwidth and toner.
IDC is also predicting that by 2018, the shift will have spawned a redefinition of 90 percent of IT roles.
That’s another way of saying that not only is the CIOs’ job changing, so are the jobs of everyone reporting to them. Those people need leadership and they will look to CIOs for it.
Fast times are ahead for CIOs. Role changes are inevitable, and resistance is futile.
Embrace the change — with change lies new opportunities and an enhanced role with an organization.
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