The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Hats that the CIO needs to get rid of… (Part 2 of 2)

windy hat.pngIn the past innovators were a chosen few—predominately middle-aged, middle-class Western men. Tomorrow’s innovators will come from all corners of the globe, all races, religions, and classes. Not only can everyone be an innovator – it is an expectation going forward as more “normal” tasks are automated.


When I say I am only human, I’m saying that I’m innovative. I like to do things differently. The optimist view is that all humans are innovative. The environment of the future will be designed to support this level of personalization and creativity. It may even reach the point where what we think we’re talking with may not be human at all.


The pessimist may believe that as low as only one percent of any general population has the high motivation, intelligence, and creativity to be truly innovative.


For Canada, with a population of 32 million inhabitants, we can reason that 320,000 are innovators. In the United States, that number increases to three million innovators.


One percent of China’s and India’s combined population would be 26 million innovators. They’ll have nearly as many innovators as Canada has residents. Our global approach is opening up those innovations to the world, further accelerating change and adoption.


Yesterday I described the numerous hats today’s CIOs are required to wear -- but what about the roles to avoid? Here are a few of the hats the CIO probably shouldn’t wear:


Chief inertia officer

Inertia is defined as “a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force.” Inertia is what makes companies continue in a direction long after the signs of change have passed. It’s represented by fixed-cost decisions, where the enterprise is sometimes incapable of overcoming bad decisions simply because they were made recently and must be defended despite better reason.


When I was going through my MBA program, one of the things we had a great deal of discussion about was the fact that sunk costs are in the past, and they can’t be a constraint to your future.


Increasingly, the future isn’t a straight line from the past, and decisions made on that basis won’t serve the enterprise well. The CIO must be a force in overcoming organizational inertia and be a strong voice in understanding not only the points at which systems fail but also the point at which optimal performance is lacking.


Chief impediment officer

IT must be a business enabler, not a business impediment. Increasingly, applications are moving closer to business end users. The expectations are for greater flexibility for devices, systems and collaboration. CIO’s must understand and embrace (at least to the point of making an active decision instead of a passive one) topics like BYOD.


The CIO is responsible for smoothing the transition from a legacy IT environment to a business-flexible SOA, where IT will move as rapidly, and with as much agility, as the enterprise demands.


Chief inefficiency officer

The efficiency of the enterprise is often tied to the efficiency of the IT capabilities underlying and supporting it. Maintaining the efficiency of the IT infrastructure is becoming a more demanding chore.


Six-nines (99.9999 percent) availability requirements mean redundant, standby infrastructure, much of which remains unused until there’s a point of failure. Architecting computing infrastructure that can be highly efficient during low traffic but can quickly and economically scale to tens of thousands of business events are becoming practical. New processes, tools, and techniques will be necessary for most organizations and the CIO is on point to plan for this.


CIOs must not only work at the strategy level, but also understand and relate to the details needed to make it happen. They must understand and preserve that which is optimally efficient, yet also muster the courage to find what could work better -- to evangelize change. They must be part lawyer, technician, mediator, and change agent. The CIO must be as much at home in the business environment as they are in the technical world. No other position in the modern enterprise requires the executive to excel in so many capacities. Even if someone masters the many dimensions, it’s safe to say that the future CIO should prepare to take on further additional, unexpected responsibilities. It’s the nature of the job.


Are you wearing in hats that you might need to take off? Do you have any other “don’ts” 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:

CIOs: Don’t try to hold on to your hat (part 1 of 2)

windy hat.pngThe 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:

This post was based off an earlier article Jeff Wacker wrote while at EDS.


A video of a 5 Things a CIO Needs to Take Action On

I mentioned in the post the other day about 5 Actions a CIO Needs Take Action On, that while I was at HP Discover they did a quick, related video recording:



It was one of those “one take” exercises that always gets the adrenalin flowing, so hopefully you’ll find it insightful as well…

5 points CIOs must take action on now

1)   Understand the business strategyplanning.png

What are the organizations hot buttons and why are they there. To do this, you’ll need to reach out (if you don’t meet with people you can’t understand them). Once you’re there you need to actually pay attention. It is amazing what people will tell you when you actually listen to what they mean not just what they say. Look for conflict. Where there is conflict, there is an opportunity to innovate.


2)   Have a vision

Don’t just respond to the situations of the day. Set direction – yet be flexible. There are always situations that defy the rules. Look for anomalies, because unique is where the value is. Everything that is not unique, but normal -- strive to automate. It takes out variability and allows the people to focus on maximizing value from those unique situations.


3)   Understand architecture

There are many dimensions to architecture that can be easily assumed or overlooked. It is not just the technical side of architecture, but the business structures they need to support that need to be understood. For example security, whether it is cloud, BYOD or analytics. The security implications and pressures can be quite different so an architectural approach needs to be flexible. The same can be said about the data issues – especially when thinking about BYOD and similar approaches.


Closely related to the planning side of architecture is the portfolio of services used by the enterprise. The existing environment is a constraint on both the flexibility and spending to address the future. Make sure every system/service has an owner. Why be constrained by something that no one cares about any more. These things can build up overtime – like weeds. It’s good to thin them out on a regular basis, and that is where the governance side of architecture comes into play.


4)   Understand your options

CIO’s today have more options than they may realize. We live in a world of abundant IT capabilities and possibilities. There are new tools available like:

  • Mobility
  • Analytics
  • Social techniques
  • Service based approaches (XaaS) and outsourcing of whole business processes.

Just because you’ve never done it before doesn’t mean that now is not the time.


5)   With all this information be sure you make a plan

Once you have the plan, be sure to communicate it to the business and your teams. This will empower them to support the effort as well as reduce confusion and inertia. In order to be a leader, you must have followers and communications is key.


The CIO can help move the organization forward and increase value to whole new levels but only if they move away from the status quo. I recorded a video of these points and if I get my hands on it (and its good) I'll place it on the blog.

The Instant-On Enterprise and Its Enemy -- Latency

One of the areas I’ve talked about before is the desire to minimize “time to decision” by using technology more efficiently to recognize patterns and turn anomalies into opportunities. As we come out of this downturn the kind of IT organizations need to invest in has changed. The new technical capabilities and their ability to reduce the time to decision is being constrained by the inertia in our ability to understand the size and implications of the shifts that are underway.


It is clear that business models are changing as we move into this everything as a service mode of operation. Recognizing what services are needed, how we can get them on-line more quickly and how manage and use the information flow across the services are all turning into core competencies for IT organizations. As more computing devices are in the field and we’re interacting with them in a 24x7 fashion, whole new levels of expectation are being developed. Yet we need to support the conflicting needs of the different types of workers and demographics.


HP announces today its structured approach to addressing these issues called the “Instant-On Enterprise”.


instant-on profile.png

The focus of this effort is to address the business needs of:

  • Innovation
  • Agility
  • Optimization
  • Risk management

Using the technologies capabilities to deliver:

  • Flexibility
  • Automation
  • Security
  • Insight and Visibility
  • Speed

Over the next couple of days I’ll post about my perspective on what’s stopping IT from meeting these shift and what can be done about it. I’ll also mention some of the HP initiatives that are targeted at addressing these issues. This may be a bit more HP offering oriented than my usual posts, but since you are going to be hearing about instant-on from HP for the coming months, I thought I’d get my perspective in early.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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.