CIO Role In 2013: Four-Headed Monster? - InformationWeek
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Eric  Lundquist
Eric Lundquist
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CIO Role In 2013: Four-Headed Monster?

Chief innovation officer. Chief infrastructure officer. Chief integration officer. Chief intelligence officer. Can you handle all four jobs?

What's a CIO to do? In the past, some of the big leaps in technology meant more power flowing to the technology group. Unified communication meant the days of the separate telecom department were numbered, and no one would think about trying to develop a UC capability without involving the tech group. Big ERP projects, company-wide CRM, and concerns over privacy, security, and compliance meant job security for the CIO. While all those concerns remain, the CIO needs to rethink the role of IT. While departments are getting budgets for technology acquisition, they do not have the corporate technology roadmap nor the technology support departments to keep the tech engine running.

Wang sees the CIO as having four "personas", all of which redefine what a CIO role should be in a company. The chief innovation officer is currently moving to mobility and analytics initiatives. The chief infrastructure officer is involved in enabling infrastructure services. The chief integration officer has a focus on implementing what Constellation refers to as "hybrid IT"--melding in-house and outside services. The chief intelligence officer is engaged in moving the organization from data to decision making. All those personas can be one person or several reports. While those roles are essential to developing a successful organization, those roles must also accommodate extricating the organization from "BYOD hell."

[ A modern CIO faces a lot of challenges. Read How To Keep Your Best Talent. ]

Wang's advice for CIOs is to embark on two tracks within their company. The main track is one that CIOs have been told to follow for a long time: understand the business of your company. The additional piece of that challenge is that once you have business understanding, spend time experimenting with new technology capabilities, design a technology blueprint, and establish guidelines for technology implementation.

The second track is to undertake a rationalization process in your company. The ease of bringing in consumer technologies and software services means companies increasingly are a mix of many different services. That mixture of services precludes efficiency and challenges security as corporate documents, customer information, and critical information get dispersed outside the company without guidelines. The CIO that can rationalize all those dispersed capabilities by establishing standards for company approved platforms without dampening innovation will be the mark of the successful CIO.

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"The CIO has the key piece of corporate knowledge, which is how to integrate services, and as such should be the central point of innovation," said Skaff.

Technology vendors would do well to pay attention to the advice from Skaff and Wang. While performing an end run around the CIO and IT department may be an avenue to a quick sale, the evolving role of the CIO as the arbiter of services will see the end run strategy become a dead end.

"This is where it gets frustrating," said Skaff. "Vendors are telling the business end users that you don't need IT. Vendors see it as a way to make a quick sale."

The value of that quick sale to the vendor will evaporate as CIOs become empowered with the role of service integrators in their companies and they remember the vendors that brought IT into the sales process versus those that performed the end run, noted Skaff.

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User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2012 | 3:24:37 PM
re: CIO Role In 2013: Four-Headed Monster?
Given the emphasis above, I'm going to throw yet another head into the CIO monster ... "CSO" Of course, this will depend on company size and industry, but it feels like there's a movement for CIOs to become even more proactive with security, even in orgs that have a CISO. Here's the rationale. Given the move to embrace public/private/hybrid/converged cloud infrustructures, security needs to be pervasive, baked-in and/or centrally managed. --Paul Calento
User Rank: Apprentice
8/17/2012 | 7:52:15 PM
re: CIO Role In 2013: Four-Headed Monster?
That advice is worth more than 2 Cents. The plan born from understanding the business and applying technology expertise against that plan is a winner imho
User Rank: Apprentice
8/15/2012 | 6:43:18 PM
re: CIO Role In 2013: Four-Headed Monster?
Although I feel it is a 5 headed dragon with the role of a CTO in the mix, the true nature of the job has always been to supply what the business needs are in the future. If this role is still working on the tactical problems of today, it has lost the race at the starting gate. It is my premise that the ordinary CIO role of budget management, OH cost cutting king, and champion of the helpdesk customer service team, is gone. Yes we must do the lights on requirements, but we must now be the incrementally improving organization that improves the business climate of the future.

How, by building both a strategic plan, and an execution plan, that finds its roots in the business unit they serve be it small company or large.

My advice would be that a strategic plan built in a vacuum sucks little or no business into it, but a plan that is born from the business units stands upon the unit it was built from. This may result in a very strategic unit plan that the business can then prioritize more proactively.

2 Cents.
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