Business Solutions: Death of the CIO?

How will cloud computing affect the CIO? Our roundtable panel debates

The transformation of IT through new delivery models like cloud computing raises questions about the role CIOs and IT managers will play in a more business-oriented, on-demand world.

Ethan Group’s Nick Stranks said one of its clients couldn’t afford to invest capital into the growth plans they had in place and wanted to outsource more IT infrastructure accountability and responsibility to a third party. In this instance, both the CIO and IT managers were looking to evolve into contract managers.

“It’s the first time it has happened, but we’re going to see more of these conversations start happening,” Stranks said. “They’re coming to us as the experts in this area, and we need to invest in services and people to make that work for them. We can’t do it all – we will become an aggregator of people that assist us to deliver that. But the customer just wants three, two or one bill for all of that.

“As long as they have quantifiable costs related to that, most non-IT people are comfortable enough now to investigate it.” Express Data’s Peter Stein agreed the role of the CIO was part of broader market evolution.

“In the past, CIOs were very technology focused. Ten years ago or so, the focus started shifting around to business process and how IT fits with the business, not how to connect the cables together,” he said. “The next step is them becoming corporate responsibility.”

For Microsoft’s Gianpaolo Carraro, it was time for CIOs to step up to the next set of challenges.

“There are some that get bitten by the organisation by costs and get pushed into the CFO’s office and the battle is lost. Others are capable of selling the value proposition of IT and get promoted to dealing directly with the CEO,” he claimed. “It’s interesting to see different landscapes where IT can be considered a cost-driven, necessary evil that we need to maintain just to keep the lights on – which is the wrong side – and then the innovative view of IT as an opportunity creator and business enabler.

“It’s the CIO’s stature and credibility in the organisation that makes the difference. As an industry, we all stand to benefit from CIOs reporting to CEOs, rather than CFOs.”

Unfortunately, while the IT industry had made some inroads educating businesses that it’s time for IT to have a voice at the table to drive business efficiencies and productivity, there was still a way to go, NewLease’s Doug Tutus said.

“The opportunity to re-imagine the business to some extent is there, and there are some people taking real advantage of that. It reflects the same challenges the channel has as well – we have a lot of businesses that aren’t ready to move from that historical model,” he added.

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