We find ourselves in a digital storm of relentless and perpetual change often underpinned by technology. The mature service provider role of IT is no longer sufficient for what the business needs to face this digital storm. Most companies have a requirement and an appetite for innovation of products, processes and even business models.
Change is now continuous. It is no longer a once-in-a-while project or limited programme of change. My favourite statement summing up this truism is from Thomas Friedman. In reflecting on the last decade, he noted that "Facebook didn't exist; Twitter was a sound; the cloud was in the sky; 4G was a parking place; LinkedIn was a prison; applications were what you sent to college; and Skype for most people was typo."
As one CIO commented to me: "The game will not be won with product excellence but rather client experience. That is the experience that consumers have."
Several seemingly unrelated forces are redefining the role of the CIO. In fact, it's not that the role is changing for the sake of it, but rather the business wants something more or new. The geek head of IT is no longer sufficient. A well run IT operation is expected and more the norm than otherwise. The organisation wants all these capabilities and more.
These forces have redefined the business landscape and call for a new C-suite executive. Could this be the CIO?
In my view, absolutely!
The future CIO is a blend of business, technology and interpersonal skills. This leader will provide the interpretation layer between emerging trends, current organisation capabilities, and organizational strategy.
There is no doubt that the companies need new leaders for a digital future. The question is do the current CIOs have the appetite for the metamorphoses required, and does the C-suite have the vision to embrace a new digital peer. As Einstein reminds us, the definition of insanity is to the same thing again and expect different outcome. We are in a new phase of digital change, requiring new and inspiring leadership.
Let us not be insane.
This article reflects what I was looking for as a judge for the CIO UK's annual CIO 100. I look forward to seeing you at the awards event on April 21 to celebrate.