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Five Key Changes for CIOs to Adopt to Successfully Evolve their Roles Within Today’s Enterprise

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is evolving as enterprises worldwide attempt to navigate their way through the fundamental changes required to keep pace with the explosion of Cloud Computing, Social Media, Big Data and Mobile Computing. Information Governance, Compliance, eDiscovery, Data Security and Business Intelligence are now more important than ever. If the CIO can’t keep pace, the fate of the entire enterprise may be at stake.

According to the FreeDictionary by Farlex, the definition of evolve is to develop or achieve gradually; to work (something) out or devise; and, to undergo gradual change. In the world of the CIO, the requirement to evolve is accelerating at an increasing rate and therefore CIOs have to evolve at a much quicker pace than is expressed in this standard definition of evolution.

According to the annual study of the digital universe by IDC and sponsored by EMC Corporation, the amount of digital information created and replicated in 2010 surpassed 1.8 zettabytes (1.8 trillion gigabytes) – growing by a factor of 9 in just five years. The ICD study goes on to say that while 75% of the information in the digital universe is generated by individuals through email, social media and texting, the enterprise will have some compliance and/or legal liability or business requirement to analyze 80% of that digital information at some point in its digital life. This requirement, within most enterprises, is the responsibly of the CIO.

However, given the historical perception of the CIO within many enterprises as being the technology geek with the legacy baggage of impeding the management and analysis of the data required by the business stakeholders to successfully complete their jobs, many CIOs are faced with an internal uphill battle to prove their value.

The best strategy for CIOs that want to successfully evolve their role is to redesign and restructure their organization(s) from centralized technology and information gatekeepers to an enterprise-wide information service bureau. Eric Lundquist, VP & Editorial Analyst for InformationWeek Business Technology Network, stated in an article on August 14, 2012, titled, “CIO: The Four Headed Monster?” that this strategy is counter to past history in business (and politics) where you increased your influence by increasing your power.

Mr. Lundquist went on to say that a bigger budget, more direct reports, and participation in board room level committees was the mark of success. However, the consumerization of business technology and the growing phenomena of the mobile workforce with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) that are making business-capable applications available to all employees via the Web is profoundly changing the enterprise information technology playing field. Mr. Lundquist contends that CIOs need to adapt to that change or risk being seen as a costly department without a clear mandate.

Five key changes that CIOs can adopt to successfully evolve their roles and the role of the IT department within the enterprise are:

1. Evolve from Providing Technology to Enabling Information and Collaboration. Historically, enterprise CIOs have built and managed the complex hardware, software and networking infrastructure required to support the back office needs of the enterprise such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. Access was structured, cumbersome and provided very little opportunity for users to collaborate.

Today’s CIO can no longer hide in their office behind the firewall and dictate what IT solutions will be available.  The successful CIO is going to evolve the role of the IT organization and embrace new technologies that enable users to access and analyze business critical information and collaborate without having to adhere to the rigid and centralized IT structures of the past.

A simple example would be to embrace a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based CRM system such as that enables users to collaborate both internally and externally with clients and prospects outside the firewall and without the assistance (or gate keeping) of the IT department.

2. Move to the Cloud. With all of the vendor propaganda and cases studies available on the Internet that prove the cost savings and increases in productivity, you would think that every enterprise in the world had moved to cloud computing. However, according to an IDC study, by 2015, only 24% of all new business software purchases will be of service-enabled software with SaaS delivery being 13.1% of worldwide software spending. IDC further predicts that only 14.4% of applications spending will be SaaS-based in the same time period.

These statistics don’t mean that the cost savings and increases in productivity afforded by moving to the cloud aren’t real; it just means that may CIOs are reticent to move to the cloud and as a result are impeding their enterprises from realizing the benefits. Therefore, the successful CIO is going to move to the cloud in a responsible manner as quickly as possible.

As an example, CIOs might consider enabling their users to store and share data via the cloud. As I stated in “Enterprise Alternative to Dropbox,” there are enterprise class storage and user collaboration solutions that support public, private and hybrid cloud deployment options for a variety of user devices such as legacy desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, Androids, and BlackBerrys.

3. Embrace BYOD. The very thought of allowing employees to Bring Their Own Devices to work and access and share corporate data is counter intuitive to the security responsibilities of the CIO. However, the BYOD train has left the station and therefore the successful CIO is going to embrace BYOD and evolve their enterprise security systems to meet the growing wave of BYOD.

The Federal CIO Council working group has released a new guidance document intended for federal agencies that are implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. The document contains case studies from Delaware, and a handful of federal agencies. The council also presents a list of key considerations to keep in mind — such as a cost/benefit analysis for BYOD, security and policy obstacles, and roles and responsibilities.

4. Adapt Alternative Development and Delivery Methodologies. Historically, enterprise users learned through experience and disappointment that new software solutions development took the IT department years to design and develop and cost millions of dollars. In today’s quickly moving global information world, the CIO and the IT department no longer have the luxury of such long and expensive deployment cycles. Therefore, the successful CIO will adopt next generation agile development and deployment methodologies and utilize pre-
build solutions that enable user requirem
ents to be met in a matter of days or months as opposed to years.

As an example, the successful CIO could utilize one of the new enterprise application market places. As I indicated in “Enterprise Application Market Places in the Cloud Provide Effective Alternative to Legacy Off-the-Shelf Software,” I would recommend any global 2000 IT department that is considering the development of next generation applications to meet the evolving demands of cloud computing, mobile computing devices, Social Media, Big Data, enterprise collaboration to investigate the new generation of application development platforms that support Enterprise Application Marketplaces in the Cloud. It could turn your IT Department into heroes.

5. Be Proactive, Not Reactive. Whether deserved or not, the enterprise CIO and their IT departments don’t have a good reputation among enterprise users for meeting their requirements. Successful CIOs are going to meet this challenge head on and become proactive in identifying, developing and supporting the next generation solutions to meet the needs of their enterprise users. A good place to start is to get out of your office and actually talk to your users about their needs–you may be surprised by what you learn.

As enterprises worldwide attempt to navigate their way through the fundamental changes required to keep pace with the explosion of Cloud Computing, Social Media, Big Data and Mobile Computing, expectations for a successful CIO in 2012 have also changed. If the CIO can’t keep pace with this new generation of requirements, the fate of the entire enterprise may be at stake. CIOs that embrace these five key changes will keep the enterprises they serve–as well as their own careers–on track to a successful future.


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