It used to stand for Career is Over, but I don’t think so any more. I do keep hearing people insisting that IT is dead, and they are right – the old IT is dead. The T stands for Technology and the tech is changing and changing fast. People forget that the iPad was launched only a year ago – and declared a success nine months ago. The iPad2 is brand new, yet fully expected as an enterprise standard? Fast Times at Ridgemont Corp.
The fact is the rules are changing and with it the expectations and deliverables of the CIO.
Unified Communications, the cloud, consumerization, and so many other factors are changing the role of the CIO. The CIO was created about 30 years ago as a CEO direct report, as a result of the increasing costs, complexities, and opportunities associated with information technology. Over the decades the CIO’s role has shifted in response to both an organization’s specific requirements and the technology objectives (or trends) of the period.
The CIO is generally chartered to align, manage, and contain the organization’s information technology (IT). The CIO always wore different hats, some hats more than others depending on the current needs and priorities of an organization. For example, during the ’90s, many CIOs focused on cost containment and elimination of surprises (both financial and technical). Around 2000, the role expanded beyond the corporate walls as organizations discovered the Internet. The CIO became focused on email, e-business, the web, security, cross-corporate data exchanges (customers, partners, suppliers), and the ensuing best practices and policies these changes required. During the past decade, VoIP brought telephony and real time communications into the fold. Even more recently, CIOs find themselves dealing with social networks, the cloud, collaboration, and consumerization.
But the position is really less about technology itself and more about how it applies to an organization’s needs. For decades, in their effort to control costs, CIOs developed a reputation for “No!” Variation increased complexity and support costs, so the typical response to new technologies and ideas was no. No to Macs, no to non-standard software, no to remote or home equipment and access, etc. Enter the cloud. Line of business managers, armed with only a credit card, could suddenly implement “pilot” IT projects (as a service) on their own. Look ma, no IT (consent). The cloud also brought with it a new transparency in pricing.