Is the role of the CIO declining in importance?

26 Nov

In this blog I will be discussing the role of the CIO and the fact that it may be declining in importance. In years gone by the CIO controlled the companys destiny by implementing massive IT projects. people believed they led massive business change within organizations via the implementation of IT. It is however evident that that role of CIO is declining in importance. Unfortunately for many CIOs, those days are just fond memories of when they were trusted to transform organizations with massive IT implementation.

There are three forces of change challenging the authority, credibility and role of today’s CIO according to

  • Declining management influence stems from a drop in credibility and gains in consumer tech. “Many CIOs have lost control in guiding how technology is used in the enterprise because the world of consumer tech has out innovated enterprise class technologies.  For example, when corporate email goes down, frustrated employees get around IT via Gmail, YouSend It or Skype.”
  • Burdens of legacy technology place ball and chains on organizational agility. “At the same time, the technologies ushered in during the Y2K investment rush no longer meet the organization’s needs.  Despite vendor assurances, these systems are so rigid that any changes or customisations often creates costly scenarios that require IT to expend significant resources while impeding future upgrades.  It’s as if these systems were put in and concrete poured around it.  Systems must adapt to how people work.  Form must follow function.”
  • Pace of technology advancements outpaces ability to adopt. “Finally, organizations find the pace of advancement in technology to be outpacing an organization’s capability to make changes.   Just as users become comfortable, upgrades appear that change how users use the technology and regulations are enacted which negate the current system, all leaving companies and users behind as they struggle to keep up with the next advancement. “

“Today’s CIOs spend up to 70% of their IT budget and resources struggling to keep the lights on.  Instead of drowning under the three forces of change, CIOs must refocus their priorities and adopt a next generation point of view.  In a recent Constellation Research, Inc. as cited by, a survey of 83 global CIOs, 29 next generation CIOs identified seven fundamental shifts in thinking that helped transform their ability to succeed in the CIO role”.  These seven areas include according to

  1. Pace of change. “Assume that change will not only be a constant, but also accelerate over time.  Successful CIOs focus on delivering agility in business models and business processes.”
  2. Planning assumptions. “Expect today’s static planning to transform itself into iterative and collaborative approaches.  Three to five year plans can’t account for or incorporate the entry of disruptive technologies. Plans transform into living documents and business processes adopt agile methodologies.”
  3. Viability factors. “Realize that yesterday’s design points shift from amassing tremendous size and scale to crafting innovative and nimble approaches.  Size and scale no longer equate to viability.  Organizations require new business models to support flexibility and viability.”
  4. Success criteria.” Re-earn a seat at the board room table by focusing on business value and business impact.  Technology is an enabler, not the complete solution.  Successful projects can no longer be measured by whether or not the technology is adopted.”
  5. Change management.” Incorporate the latest techniques to improve user adoption and create sustaining change.  The human factor remains the hardest barrier to overcome.  Adoption of both traditional and disruptive technologies will require that CIOs elevate the priority of change management to an essential category.”
  6. Technology acquisition. “Consider new deployment options to reduce capital expenses.  Shift capex to opex.  As budgets shift to operating expenses, CIOs can free up capital for much needed optimization projects that can fund future innovation.”
  7. Innovation path. “Focus priorities on identifying areas to create disruptive business models and adopt emerging technologies.  Learn to fail fast and move on.  Iterative approaches no longer provide the key payback times required for competitive advantage.”

I believe that if CIO’s keep on top of these 7 shifts of change they can prove to be successful. The role overall is very challenging and is being more scrutinized since the days of CIO implementing massive IT projects within a company. The role clearly is important and necessary but as to whether it is declining I’m not sure. It would vary from company to company and the faith placed on the CIO from the fellow board of directors. Clearly there wouldn’t be as much faith in CIO’s working solo in implementing IT as the cost cutting measures are more severe these days and every expense is closely watched. Because of this I believe it has declined in responsibility more than anything not importance.



2 Responses to “Is the role of the CIO declining in importance?”

  1. oconnormatty7 November 27, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Very interesting blog cmoloney14. I would agree as to the relative uncertainty regarding whether there is a decline or not also!

  2. aherntim1 November 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Very interesting read cmoloney14. I cannot agree with you enough that a CIO needs to keep on top of things. As if he/she does not, then the relative uncertainty regarding their position could suggest it is in decline.

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