Cloud Source Blog
In This HP Cloud Source Blog, HP Expert, Christian Verstraete will examine cloud computing challenges, discuss practical approaches to cloud computing and suggest realistic solutions.


A couple days ago, I stumbled on an article from Keith Engelbert on the Forbes blog, titled “Will CIO’s vanish into Cloud? “ According to him, 17 percent of CFO’s believe the role of CIO will disappear within the next five years. What does this mean? Does the CIO no longer have a role in the enterprise? Or, has the role changed so much that it is becoming a different position all together? I rather believe the latter. Let me explain what I mean.


The role of the CIO is changing

The role of the CIO and the IT department is actually changing fundamentally. CIO’s are increasingly expected to perform three key tasks:

  • Quickly deliver the services required by the business
  • Establish an environment that collects and analyzes the data available within and outside the enterprise for fast and to the point decision making
  • Serve as the key advisor on information technologies, helping the business choose the right technologies to embed in the products and support the services the company delivers

Let’s look at this in a little more detail and let’s start with the first bullet. Current IT departments do not have the resources to develop in time all the services required by the business. Increasing their size is not in the cards under the current budget constraints. So, IT needs to look outside for service provisioning. Cloud computing provides an agile environment facilitating the responsiveness of the department in the development and testing of new applications; while software-as-a-service offers a vast collection of applications and tools for delivering non-core functionality to the business.  So, the CIO should become the strategic service broker leading the service and technology governance for the enterprise and sourcing the right service from the right source, be it internal or external.


For years, IT departments have been the guardian of the structured data of the enterprise. They have established the key databases and datamarts while setting up business intelligence environments that allow the business teams to exploit available information. The social media boom has made people realize that most data is unstructured and that the current tools are not able to analyze this data.


Social Media’s role in politics has made companies realize the importance of this new media. Enterprises are tapping into the experience of their employees to foster collaboration and make themselves visible in the marketplace. The most advanced use analysis tools to understand the tone of the conversation while discovering how their customers perceive them and highlight potential issues with their products and services. Understanding how to “turn data into information is a full-time job in its own right. Who better than the CIO to take this new challenge?


What should the CIO become?

This reminds me of a contact I had a number of years ago with a Japanese CIO. When he was introduced as CIO, he pointed out quite quickly that it was CIO for Chief Innovation Officer. In the same spirit, Andy Pattinson (@APACloud) points out in a video that the CIO should be the Chief Innovation Officer, no longer the Chief Plumbing Officer.   


If I had to bring it in math terms, I’d say that CIO = CBO + CDO + CTO, where CBO stands for Chief Brokering Officer. This may actually mean a split of the function. The Chief Brokering Officer would be responsible for services governance and its sourcing from the right provider. I use the term broker in line with the “cloud broker” concept used by NIST. The CBO is responsible for establishing a converged cloud approach and managing the lifecycle of the services requested by the business.


The second role is CDO, Chief Data Officer (Yes, I could have made this one CIO, Chief Information Officer, but that would have been confusing). Researching for this blog entry, I was actually quite surprised to find others thinking about the same idea. Mike Vizard makes the case for a CDO, highlighting the need for a real information management strategy. Convincing business people that social media is no longer just a gadget, but a real tool to understand market perceptions and needs, is not an easy task. Developing the environment to mine the data and analyze the findings is critical for advanced companies today.


The third role is the CTO role. When I became a chief technologist, I actually looked at what the job meant and ran into an interesting paper titled “The Role of the CTO: Four Models for Success.” The CTO I’m talking about here is addressed by model 2, CTO as “Big Thinker.” As Phil McKinney points out in an interview by Rich Karlgaard, the CTO bridges the area between 18 months and five years, between fundamental research and product/service implementations.


So, yes the role of the CIO may vanish, but the function is evolving and will be needed by the enterprise for a long period of time as information technology becomes core to the business. The current technology wave is all around cloud, the next one, focused on big data is starting. What comes next? Well, I don’t know what name will be given to it, but I would argue it has something to do with pervasive computing. In other words, the barriers between business and IT are disappearing, business is IT and IT is business. One aspect of that is called Pervasive Computing and is already popping its head over the horizon. But that is probably worth another blog entry in its own right, don’t you believe so?

Labels: Cloud| Cloud Source
Nadhan | ‎05-01-2012 12:56 AM

Intriguing formula, Christian.  While I agree with your assertion, I would also suggest that the CIO's time should be split 40-40-20 between CBO-CDO-CTO.  40% each for CBO and CDO and 20% on the CTO role.

Werner | ‎05-07-2012 05:40 PM

... + CPO


while not arguing against the formula, I would say it is not that new:

- CBO in the past brokered the best suppliers for HW, SW and - yes - also services

- CDO is there since the invention of the data bases, I would say

- CTO has always been at the real heart of the classic CIO, right?

Yet, what I do miss and think will be more and more crucial (as more external services need to be integrated) is the process piece - meaning the business process view that IT needs to support and optimize. There is hardly any "separate" service, that you can carve out without blood. In a modern enterprise most services are tightly integrated, aka solutions. This is the area that would concern me most as a chief innovation officer: how can I avoid that every business unit just reaches out and buys services from the cloud as they did buy island applications in the C/S times? And would not care how to be integrated in the overall processes and architecture ...



| ‎05-08-2012 08:33 AM

Werner, you may argue that the roles have been out there for a while, but the content is drastically different. Let me take an example, you point out the CDO has been there since the invention of the database. You are correct, however, the CDO was responsible for the data within the boundaries of the enterprise. What we now need is a CDO that extracts from all available datasources (within and outside the enterprise, and here I think in particular about social media information for example) the relevant information to allow the enterprise to take the appropriate decisions to successfully grow its business. In my mind that is a very different task.

You are correct as far as business processes are concerned and I will come back to that, but you know, a blog post is around 1000 - 1500 words maximum, so you cannot cover everything in one entry 

David Wilde | ‎05-21-2012 08:58 AM

A well considered summary of where CIO is goin. I'm already operating across the 3 as CIO and the combinaiton is really helping to move our organisation forward, alongside changing the perspective of technology in the business for the better

| ‎05-21-2012 09:06 AM

Thanks, David. Would love to hear more about your experience and I'm sure our readers would to. Any chance to share how you got to this point and what you have experienced?

Enterprise CIO Forum | ‎06-11-2012 10:27 AM

CIOs and IT leaders interested in business, IT transformation,
application modernization, converged infrastructure, enterprise security, information optimization and IT delivery.
Discuss issues and exchange ideas.

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
About the Author
Christian is responsible for building services focused on advising clients in their move to cloud, particularly from a business process and ...

Follow Us
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.