The winds of change for CIOs (and IT) are blowing harder than ever before. Normally, one would say “hold on to your hat!” but in this case, it should be time to “get ready to lose it,” since the CIO needs to wear more hats than ever before.
In this age of exponential growth, powered by Moore’s law and other exponential changes, we’ve only started to see the changes that will be taking place.
Every worker today needs to have access to broad as well as deep knowledge. They need to be constantly learning. Those who are great at one thing will have a job only as long as that one thing is in demand and accessible. The workers who can move from role to role (be willing to let go), even within one job, who can project their expertise into the market (even if it is only within the ecosystem we call an enterprise today) will thrive. The CIO position of the future is a perfect example of this, both as an example and as an enabler of others.
Tomorrow’s CIO will enable the flow of a rapidly evolving new business model. The CIO’s hats will undergo significant change, and the concept of the chief information officer role we are familiar with will likely be lost to history.
In case anyone doubts these multiple roles, here are just a few of the many dimensions required for today and tomorrow:
Chief integration officer
The untethered, aggregated, ecosystem we call an enterprise today will demand integration like we’ve never seen before. Systems of record will still exist, but they will have many consumers, possibly even outside the enterprise borders. The days of standalone solutions, organizations… are over.
Chief innovation officer
We know that innovation is coming from all directions and sources—and in an environment of increasing change, it must be understood, cultivated, and managed. The CIO has a role to both educate and accelerate innovation. Diversity of perspective is a key way to hasten innovation and the collaborative tools are in the CIOs area.
Chief irritation officer
This goes along with the saying “if it ain’t broke – break it.” The CIO needs to have a vision of where things need to be. They need to be able to share that with others, evangelize and rise up against the latency and inertia that inhibit change adoption. This skill is critical for the CIO being a leader.
Chief identity officer
Identity management is a critical capability -- optimizing the flow of information to partners, customers, and employees. Knowing who the right person is and providing that individual with the right information in the right form in the right place at the right time to drive the right outcome (Right6) is an expectation for the future. The security implications are immense, so…
Chief inoculation officer
Security is a make-or-break proposition in today’s enterprise. The news is full of stories about hackers, worms, and phishing expeditions. Security incidents can give an organization a black eye, or even take them down.
Security breaches reduce confidence in every aspect of the business and can cost the executives their jobs. The security techniques for business in the future need to be about creating and maintaining multilayered, context-aware, business function-based security. If the 90s taught us anything, it is that perimeter based security approaches are bound to fail. Security must be baked in, not bolted on. It requires strong collaboration between technology and business processes and the CIO’s leadership role is central to this effort.
Security must be transformed from being viewed as a cost component to an empowering one. One of the foundations of the big data movement is that visibility and transparency are central to decision making. Depending on the industry, significant amounts of meta-data can be derived from security information showing the relationship between people, systems and events.
Chief international officer
While the primary responsibility for international relations might fall to the COO, the technical infrastructures that facilitate these efforts are within the domain of the CIO.
This is no trivial undertaking. Each country has its own laws, risks and implications. Managing an international infrastructure requires the CIO to be part lawyer, part technician, part politician, and all business.
Chief investigative officer
New constructs around cloud computing, pattern recognition, simulation, predictive technologies, complex-event processing, and event-stream processing technologies emerge daily. The CIO must understand these new technology capabilities—and, when economically appropriate—apply them to create business value.
Each new service must be considered as to whether it’s a new competitor or, perhaps, a compliment to amplify the value of an existing service. Many of the new services will be delivered through the Internet and won’t be geographically bound like their predecessors. The CIO will be at least partially responsible for providing the conduit to this new business-intelligence content, even if the analysis responsibilities fall to other parts of the business. The CIO needs to understand the business needs and flesh out these possibilities, bringing them into discussions with the business. To accomplish this, the CIO must be aware of new opportunities, new threats and new conduits for finding them, as well as how they’ve been used elsewhere, and the commensurate risks—a process requiring strong investigative and analytic disciplines.
Chief information officer
Finally what we think of as information and sources of information are under constant change. The sifting of structure from unstructured data is opening up vast sets of information that just a short time ago were beyond our reach. For example deriving the context of speak, video… are becoming possible.
But what’s unique about much of this new information for most companies is that it’s designed to improve decision making—it’s not data for more data processing. In a world where data is abundant, having more data is just not helpful. Referred to as “context content,” the new information flow consists of meta-information, or information about the information; collateral information, or what else was occurring; and environmental information, or the state of environments. When properly processed, this information will provide clues as to the “why” of an event rather than just the “what” and move the basis for corporate action from sense-and-respond, or reactive, to cause-and-effect, or proactive.
Next time, I’ll talk about a few of the hats today’s CIOs probably shouldn’t wear, but in the meantime, do you have any CIO hats to add to my list?
To read more about my thoughts on the roles of the CIO, visit these HP The Next Big Thing blog posts:
- Misplaced concerns about the death of the CIO
- 5 Points CIOs must take action on now
- A video of 5 things CIOs must take action on now
This post was based off an earlier article Jeff Wacker wrote while at EDS.