Innovation

Footnote, Atomization, or Big Bang?

Footnote Atomization or Big Bang

Posted by CIO Talk Radio onin Leadership/Management

The history describing the role that CIOs played in establishing technology as a business tool at the start of the 21st century is still being written, with a blank page for the ending. What will be written? Will the role become a footnote explaining an obsolete acronym? Will the role atomize into multiple IT managers for each one of multiple business units? Or, will there be a big bang and rebirth into some new business role/ hybrid business-technology leader?

The one thing everyone agrees on is that the CIO role is changing, as more and more business people are comfortable with technology and technology becomes a strategic business partner where much of IT can be or is now outsourced and bought as a service from a tech vendor. Yuvi Kochar, CIO of the Washington Post estimates that his IT team is 70% devoted to business analysis and engaged with driving strategy, while only 30% is involved with IT and project management for IT that is outsourced.  (Is the CIO becoming extinct? August 18, 2010, CIO Talk Radio:  8:01 – 10:02) For Bill Haser, CIO of Tenneco however, the CIO role is still rooted in technology.  Even as IT has a bigger role now advising business, as the utility portion shrinks, managing outsourced services is still clearly an IT management prerogative and challenge. (12:20 – 13:23).

Type of business or size of business and the role of CIO: Yuvi Kochar pointed out that the Post has a cable business, which is a technology product business. Tech leadership is dispersed among each unit, but is a full strategic partner with the business.  Here, it can also make sense to have a single tech department to manage commodity services or commodity service vendors. (23:20 – 24:50) If the business is global and less diverse, with business units that don’t have much in common with each other, and IT needs to achieve scale across multiple business units for certain business functions, splitting IT up creates huge governance issues. So again IT is needed to manage vendors, if not IT needs directly. (Bill Haser: 39:39 – 40:37).

Does a CIO differ from other roles such as CFO, CEO, or COO? Bill Haser suggests that the CIO may not have a distinct specific advantage over these other roles, but will certainly have a broader view of how business gets done across various business units. (48:23 – 49:12)

Readers, what do you think? Will the role become a footnote, will it atomize into multiple IT situated with multiple business units, or will there be a big bang and rebirth into some new business role/ hybrid business-technology leader?

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