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February 28th, 2012:

Break the Cycle…

It seems the more things change, the more things stay the same…or at least history has a habit of repeating itself and no-one learns from the mistakes of the past. I have read a couple of articles recently which suggest that the role of the CIO is under threat and surprise, surprise, it’s the CFO who has eyes on the kingdom of IT.

Now, in days of yore when mainframes ruled the roost; the IT department often came under the CFO; well it’s all numbers isn’t it? It was only when the PC came along, that IT became something more and IT became more relevant to everyone; it was this era which really saw the arrival of the CIO.

Yet, as IT becomes ever more personal and ubiquitous; we seem to be moving back in time from an organisational structure. We regularly hear nonsensical statements driven by the adoption of Cloud Computing; if we move to the Cloud, do we need an IT department? Do we need a CIO? Does the CIO really need any kind of technical knowledge and should they not be purely business focused?

IT departments need to be business focused; this is very true but IT is a technical function and you need people with an understanding of what is technically possible and feasible, you need people who understand technology. Even if you move your function entirely to the Cloud, you need people who understand technology to manage and administer the Cloud; even if you outsource your entire IT function, you still need people who understand technology who can manage your partners and keep them honest.

IT is the oxygen when enables many businesses; the CIO needs to understand the business but they also need to understand technology enablers. The CIO needs to understand the value of their organisation and needs to move away from a purely cost based model; if the CIO is too differentiate themselves from the CFO, this is an absolutely key area to focus on.

In fact, the CIO needs to come to the fore and lead; championing IT as the enabler for business growth and development. I would argue that where we are today, we have never needed strong CIOs more with a vision based on technology investment model which drives innovation for their businesses.