New breed of CIOs become custodians of data flow

When Paul Caris, CIO at global law firm Eversheds, decided to equip the firm’s lawyers with iPads, he met with a lot of resistance.

“If I had listened to anybody along the way I wouldn’t have done it,” he says.

“My own team was trying to tell me it was a folly. They were rolling out the usual excuses about security and supportability.”

Undeterred, Caris initially piloted 15 iPads and didn't look back.

Two years later, 500 of the firm’s fee-earners have iPads, all equipped with full access to their emails, calendar and a cloud-based archiving system.

Deploying the software cost nothing. The users provide their own support, through an intranet forum that allows them to collaborate on best practice and share fixes.

New breed
Is Caris a new breed of CIO? Traditionally the relationship between IT and the business has always been a tricky one of give-and-take.

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But the time when IT was regarded as an expensive drain on the business has been replaced by an acceptance that IT can bring benefits to the business in terms of cost-savings, productivity gains and a competitive edge.

If Caris’s example is anything to go by, the relationship between IT and the business could be changing yet again, with the CIO taking a very different approach to business demands.

The IT landscape in most businesses already looks very different from five years ago.

Applications and storage are gradually moving to the cloud, and software-as-a-service providers are taking away some of the pain of day-to-day management.

It would be an exaggeration to say that the IT function has been left twiddling its thumbs.

Many would say they are being expected to do more with less, but the focus of its energies may be gradually shifting.

What is the likely impact of this slow shift?