I was recently asked to be one of a panel of judges tasked with putting together the annual CIO100 — a list of the UK’s top 100 CIOs from across all industries, due for release in January.
One of the subjects we discussed is the way in which the role that the CIO plays within an organisation is changing.
The combination of global economic pressures and the consumerisation of information have changed the focus for many businesses.
Recent high-profile examples of the dangers posed by public access to information (the pressure exerted on Nestlé around the use of child labour in chocolate production, for example, or the hacking scandal at News International) have highlighted the need for management teams to have much greater awareness about what is going on inside their organisations.
The key word here is information and it’s the CIO who can provide access to it.
This information is as much about identifying opportunities as it is about uncovering threats, and is usually an organisation’s biggest asset — an asset that the CIO effectively owns.
Two conversations with two very different people over the last week have brought into sharp focus the choice that is facing CIOs today.
First, the head of sales at a large software firm admitted in conversation that he no longer regarded the CIO as the primary decision-maker.
“The power is shifting,” he told me. “These days it’s the lines of business or one of the new roles that have evolved alongside the internet — head of innovation or head of channels. These are the folks with the money.”
A few days later I was chatting to a friend who is a non-executive director for a major utility.
“IT is just another utility these days,” he said. “If you can provide it quicker, cheaper and involve me as little as possible you’ve got the job.”