Who is the CIO of Tomorrow?
As IT evolves from a service provider to a strategic partner, the centralized IT structure is disappearing. In its place, companies are moving toward a dispersed IT organization that is embedded within specific lines of business. This means that the “traditional” role of the CIO—an individual leading a centralized, enterprise-wide function with a broad remit and, historically, enormous budgets, is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
While this changing landscape represents an opportunity for CIOs, some IT leaders feel as if they are under siege. They become distressed about this new world, imagining a future where the lack of a centralized structure translates into a loss of control, shrinking budgets and diminishing influence.
This, however, is old-style thinking—a reactive stance that traces its origins back to a time when IT was the only game in town. And this shortsightedness has damaged the CIO “brand”: Nearly half of C-suite executives think the CIO does not get involved in discussing business performance and decisions. According to the Ernst & Young study, “The DNA of the CIO,” CIOs are believed to be reluctant to provide the data needed for strategic decisions, and a notable minority (14%) of CIOs say they aren’t even asked to provide this data.
Clearly, the traditional role of the CIO needs to evolve in order to maintain relevance in the organization of the future. So who is the CIO of tomorrow?
The E&Y report paints a portrait of a CIO who is leading a highly matrixed, distributed organization; a CIO who can provide an informed, business-centric view of how IT can support and enhance the business, both in the short and long term; a CIO with the courage to challenge the executive team’s expectations; and a CIO who can become an effective partner in leading change.
The CIO of tomorrow will also be leading smaller, more nimble, more responsive organizations that make effective use of the cloud to solve problems and achieve timely results.
Steve Romero, whose book, Eliminating “Us and Them,” explores how to remove barriers between an IT department and the rest of the business, says that cloud-management tools are essential to provide the insight and control of complex cloud environments, ensuring security and availability of the applications. At the same time, companies need guidance on how to use these tools.
"There are certainly situations where using the cloud makes sense, because it greatly reduces the implementation and deployment times," Romero says. "But many applications could live in the cloud for years, and at a certain threshold it might make more economic sense to house an application in your own data center."
Business units need help making those decisions, which are at the intersection of financial transparency and smart operations. The CIO of tomorrow must implement cloud-management technology to automate processes and provide financial transparency so business units can make intelligent choices about which external and internal resources are most advantageous.
The CIO of tomorrow will also need to rely on advanced analytics to gain true visibility into every aspect of company infrastructure. “You need a very robust set of cloud-management tools that you train your people on,” says Scott Feuless, principal consultant at Information Services Group (ISG). “If IT has a single pane of glass to view the entire infrastructure through, the company has the ability to ramp resources up and down easily. The important thing is to avoid having every business unit duplicate the cloud management functions.”
And that’s the focus of the CIO of tomorrow—how to use better cloud management to avoid fragmenting of data, duplicative processes and inefficient use of resources. As Feuless puts it, “The CIO must become a marketer [who can] educate the business on how the new IT department is going to help them generate revenue quickly, [as opposed to] the ‘old’ IT departments that always took a long time to get anything done.”
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