When McLaren needed a specialist building to bring together its three businesses it went to Foster and Partners, the famous architects, for a solution (bottom image). When an organisation has distinct requirements from a property it doesn't go to a building contractor or to a property management firm. Architects study the needs and apply creative thinking and a dedicated team to craft an outcome. Only then is a builder contacted and construction begins.

In the technology world, at present, there are two options which bare a closer resemblance to commissioning a builder or buying a pre-built standard product. The later example is perfect for the bulk of standard processes an organisation requires.

When the organisation requires more than a standard platform, then the existing scenario of collaborating with builders, whether they be software vendors or systems integrators seems fraught with danger. Just like a builder these mainstays of the technology industry need a strong pipeline of work, one delivery swiftly followed by another. That is the nature of their business, they need to keep building.

An architect and their practice have a much deeper and more personal relationship with the outcome.

So as the British CIO community finds itself entering a new environment of increased technology demands from external customers and the internal organisation so too does the technology industry. Buying specialist outcomes from a builder may not achieve the outcomes desired. The technology industry needs to either be a strong builder of standard services that a sizeable number of organisations require, or it needs to align itself with, or create, a new wave of architects that can shape an organisations needs.

Which puts the CIO or those with CIO experience in a strong position. Enterprise architects are highly valued and often the CIO in waiting, an architectural minded CIO will be drawing from beyond the enterprise.

Transformational CIOs fully understand the organisation and build relationships with it at all levels. A transformational CIO is creative at painting a picture of what is possible with technology, but like a sculpter can also take that drawing and chisel out a tangible real object. As technology impacts every facet of the organisation and the customer's relationship with an organisation CIOs and vendors need to become or engage with an architectural view of how an organisation can look in the digital age.

McLaren Technology Centre