With the growth and commoditization of computing resource, and the inevitable introduction of cloud computing, both as a software, platform and infrastructure services, the Chief Information Officer’s role will change significantly over the next two years. Cloud computing provides incredible agility for those organizations equipped to utilize it, Business Process Outsourcing is providing increasing levels of workforce flexibility, and with the commoditization of design and development resources, how does this rapid ability to affect change effect the CIO?
The role of the CIO has become increasingly important as organizations have adopted technology to solve business problems. Traditional responsibilities have focused on new opportunities and tools to support business strategy, adapting technology to utilize tools, and analyzing and implementing processes to make best of technology resources. In many cases – the focus for the CIO has been on cost cutting and efficiency.
Business Intelligence (BI) tool improvements have also made business modelling more readily available to the business, which can speed up this success/failure feedback loop. But not only does it provide intelligence for cost cutting and efficiency, it can also expose new markets. In order to align technology with the CEO’s direction, the CIO needs to be able to position resources that allow business units to take advantage of this intelligence, and to disseminate it as rapidly as possible to the relevant teams to act upon.
The CIO is in a unique position to drive this change. The major change agent over the past two decades has been the adoption of technology, and as a result of this, competent CIO’s have become adept at restructuring their IT teams to drive efficiency. But with the increasing commoditization of technology, business arms outside of IT are now able to adopt these services, but in many cases, without the experience over the past two decades.
To this extent, the new CIO is best positioned to help the entire business transform. The CIO needs to be part of the conversation around new ventures and resourcing, across the entire organization – being able to drive adoption of processes, and fitting technology in place to not only support existing business needs, but exploit new opportunities. Conversely, the CIO needs to be vocal when technology change or business intelligence highlights risk that needs to be managed.
In order to take on these additional responsibilities, CIO’s will need to shift from the current IT thinking of delivering infrastructure and software, to a model that delivers a complete solution that encompasses flexibility and agility. Organizational change and technology brokering will become significantly more important as software as a service takes over on premise or custom developed software, allowing resources to be freed up for more effective roles.
The challenge for the CIO over the next two years is to implement frameworks and policies that enhance organizational agility – adapting processes to quickly change providers where appropriate, provide for flexible and scalable workforces, and ensure that the organization is not paying for resources they are not consuming. At the same time as focusing on efficiency, they will need to be aware of revenue opportunities that can and will open up as a result.
These are not easy changes – but with Microsoft, Amazon and Google aggressively pursuing software, platform and infrastructure services, this is not going away. CIO’s have two years to help drive the transformations of their organizations to take advantage of these services, or run the risk of running costly IT departments which “the business” cease to use. Essentially, the CIO needs to shift the focus from being a developer and deployer of software and infrastructure, to one of innovation and transformation that proactively delivers business value.