Most IT departments in large organisations came into being 30 years ago to manage corporate databases and enterprise applications.
As technology continues to change with the rise of the Internet and Cloud delivery the IT department increasingly looks like it came from another age, which it did.
So how does the profession go about transforming the IT department, changing it from a focus on the management of technical assets to a department skilled up to deliver technology-enabled business change?
Right up till now the CIO has been the overseer of large complex IT projects, typically designed to enable large business application suites to automate back office business function areas such as finance and accounting.
These projects are expensive and high risk and it is a matter of public record in the public sector that they do not always deliver what they were meant to.
And so the management scope of these projects demands strong governance which itself usually means the development of layers of governance administration skills.
The CIO balances the management of these administrators with the demands of managing software engineers alongside the requirement to enable business change by working closely with other senior decision-makers in the wider organisation.
Most usually, at this point, your august industry commentator will move on to discuss how the CIO can work more effectively with the CFO, the CEO and so on.
However, I think there is an organisational relationship which the CIO overlooks far too often: that is how to work more effectively with the HR Director.
For example, last year K2 Advisory conducted a research study looking at the 2020 workplace. One thing we concluded was that more metrics around staff satisfaction with technology tooling are required.
Our findings showed that of the 65% of organisations in our research that carry out employee satisfaction surveys, only about half measure employee satisfaction with their technology devices.
If these satisfaction surveys are about gathering data in order to make changes that improve the workplace, it seems rather odd to exclude what are probably the most important tools many people use today.
This year K2 Advisory findings in our forthcoming study “Collaboration: using social media across internal silos to improve productivity” suggest that two-thirds of organisations do not involve HR with the roll out of social media tooling, which you tell us is introduced to improve cross-organisational productivity.
This is a missed opportunity because to get cross-organisational collaboration HR can be a great source of support. For example, the use of the social media tool can be linked into the appraisal process to get wider buy-in to its use amongst employees.
But the fascinating finding from this study is that most C-level champions behind the adoption of social media tools in their organisations are viewing them as a kind of upgrade for existing enterprise software.
Software which was designed for servers inside the firewall: to keep information in, and the rest of the world out. This is not the type of environment for which Web 2.0 solutions have been designed.
CIOs can demonstrate some of the potential of these tools as soon as the organisation acquires another company or merges with another organisation.
Mergers and acquisitions are the obvious area for showcasing social media tools and yet they are completely overlooked as a driver for the use of this technology.
This is one of many opportunities which today’s technology presents to CIOs to begin to expand their role.
We are interested in finding out what you intend to do to begin to shape the IT Department so that it remains as a positive legacy of your tenure as CIO for our next study: “The Changing CIO Role: Developing the 2020 IT department.”
We want you to make your views count by taking this short survey. In return you will get a free copy of the findings when they are published in June.
Kate Hanaghan is research manager at K2 Advisory