The future of the disrupted CIO

Disruptive technologies are changing the relationships CIO's have with the business. What does this mean for tomorrow’s CIO?

Everything in your business is connected, from the phone call to the service desk to validate your new credit card to the drones that may soon deliver your groceries. These are all part of the emerging world of disruptive technologies.

These technologies are changing the very manner in which business works, and perhaps just as importantly, allowing other new disruptive technologies to enter the market. Businesses and their CIO’s need to be prepared. We all know what happened to Kodak, don’t we?

Business is more dependent on technology for its survival than at any point in history. So more than ever, today’s CIO must act not only a technology leader but as critical business partner who understands the nature and direction of the business.

Many CIO’s I meet are fundamentally still seen as only technologists, not partners in business that would allow – and even drive – the business to differentiate. This “pigeon holing” is only exacerbated with the useful lifecycles of technology decreasing.

An investment in technology today might only be valid for months, not years as in the past, leading to the scenario where investments in technology quickly disintegrate into technical debt. When you combine this with the growing awareness and empowerment of the business to directly procure or develop IT-enabled business solutions leading to investments in capital equipment that hold little value to the organization, leading some to question their business acumen.

So what is the response of the savvy CIO?

Many forward-thinking CIO’s are transitioning to a new agile environment where speed is critical, one where is acceptable risk is okay and resources, including people and cash, are made available for innovation. It’s not that keeping the lights on is unimportant; it is critical and will remain so. The CIO needs to find that balance, one that delivers business transformation at the rate and pace of the business, based on the risk appetite of the business.

For instance, a new solution with top secret or business-critical information will mandate greater levels of security. Too many IT organizations do not classify information appropriately, often implementing a single security approach rather than an information approach. This often leads to business frustration, with too many controls placed on less-sensitive information in order to guard the critical information.

Looking ahead, one the biggest trends that the CIO will have to deal with is the explosion of information driven by the Internet of Things, as well as Big Data and Analytics. These capabilities deliver information that – when properly leveraged – will provide critical competitive advantage to the business. But will the business, and IT by inference, be able pivot and better manage their IT investments to take full advantage?

CIO’s are still getting a handle on the correct resources required to drive value to their organizations, and the good news is that the pace will only increase as will the opportunities that confront the CIO.

So as 2014 concludes and 2015 is upon us, the role of IT will continue to be more important and relevant to all businesses. And the forward-thinking CIO will need to focus on the future direction, putting the shortcomings of the past behind them and embracing new best practices for the good of the business.


Robert Stroud is VP of innovation and strategy for IT Business Management at CA Technologies.…

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