Chris Gabriel takes another look at the changing role of the CIO. Six months after Logicalis research found signs of a fundamental shift, has reality borne out the theory?
Late last year, I wrote a piece for this blog entitled Rumours of the CIOs’ demise are wildly exaggerated, and the view I expressed in the article can be summarised thus:
“…behind the perceived threat from the cloud and service providers, there is an opportunity – an opportunity to create a new kind of IT department acting as a critical connector between the business and its technology and IT service needs and the range of providers the business may choose to work with.
“In short, the IT function can become a kind of pseudo service provider, freed from the burden of supporting legacy technology and instead focused on selecting and delivering technology solutions that support business agility and which are aligned with a wider business strategy.”
That wasn’t an exercise in crystal-ball gazing. The view was shaped by responses to a survey carried out by Logicalis, which asked CIOs from almost 200 mid-sized enterprises worldwide a range of questions about their roles, how their time is spent and so on.
The results told us that CIOs were acutely aware of the ‘threat’ from Shadow IT, the cloud and a range of other issues, but that they were determined to respond by reshaping the CIO role – to focus on strategy rather than maintenance.
Now, research from Harvey Nash seems to confirm this new role trend is taking shape, and fast. Of the many findings from the survey of 2029 CIOs from all over the world, three jumped off the page for me:
- CIOs are now less focused on ‘keeping the lights on’, and are gravitating toward core activities which will have a direct contribution to the business’ success.
- 43% of respondents now see that the CIO has succeeded in making technology ‘fundamental to competitiveness’, and the IT team is increasingly known for delivering innovation value
- CIOs generally feel they have lost control of IT assets to a certain extent, and hence, are adopting more of an influencer role – ‘championing a technology vision’ and building relationships with other departments.
Is this the emergence of the new, strategically driven CIO, at the helm of the internal enterprise service provider?
It may well be, but here’s a note of caution for CIOs’ C-level colleagues.
The survey also found that the CIO’s ability to truly deliver this new breed of IT department – one that delivers demonstrable business value – depends on stable budgets, albeit budgets that will continue to be tied to clear ROI projections.
As a result, effective collaboration between CIOs and CEOs or CFOs is becoming even more critical – it could come to define not only an organisation’s IT spend, but its ability to compete in a new business reality where the service defined enterprise will be king.