The age of the CIO as IT leader is over?

IBA Group
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

IT is changing fast and it can be hard to keep up, but companies in the IT services business know that one thing is certain, the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is changing fast.

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is becoming more involved in technology decisions in many companies as IT moves itself more closely to the business across all industry sectors.

It’s no surprise. Think for a moment about the big difference between Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and IT Outsourcing. With BPO, the person commissioning the work is a business leader, the head of finance, the head of HR, the head of operations… they don’t really care about the underlying technology. They just want to buy a solution that works for their business.

Now think about IT services. IT suppliers have worked with the CIO for many years – selling solutions to the technology head. Yet the role of the CIO seems to have changed during the economic slowdown. Companies require their CIO, CFO, and business leaders to work more closely than ever in ensuring that the business benefits from the decision made by all the executives.

Take a look at what IT expert Angelica Mari says in her book ‘Reboot: Leading IT in the information age’: “The CIO is quickly losing their traditional power base focused on the ownership of physical assets. The basement stuffed full of ‘kit’ is no more. In this environment, only the fittest – or smartest – will survive.”

But why has this change taken place? The past couple of years have been tough for everyone. The role of the CIO has evolved and changed because IT has become more important than ever – in all industries.

In travel, it’s probably CRM that is the most important investment right now. In government it is technology that can reduce transaction costs… In most industries, IT has become so pervasive that the companies could not operate without it. So, with IT becoming more strategic than ever, how come many industry analysts believe that the age of the CIO as technology leader is over?