It is becoming increasingly apparent to both business leaders and shareholders that the world is changing and that new technology is both driving these changes and enabling organisational readjustment.
So those in a position of influence need to consider what role the CIO is to play going forward. Having someone on the board responsible solely for IT will just bloat the leadership team so we need to consider a hybrid role that comprises a blend of CIO and functional head.
Let's explore how this might work out:
At best: The reporting figures are more likely to be accurate given the IT function's comfort with data management and the clarity of what needs to be reported. The manner in which the quarterly results are presented will be highly engaging as the IT function will enjoy squeezing the maximum functionality from the latest analytics tools.
At worst: There is the possibility that the Finance function will overshoot its budget and there will always be concern that the figures will not hit the City/Street when the market expects them, thus triggering negative sentiment.
At best: There is much talk of tension at the Marketing and IT function boundary as new technology budget drifts away from the IT function. Marketing often deals in illusion whereas the IT function is judged on reality. So a top flight CIO will focus her attention beyond the shiny apps with a view to creating a seamless set of customer journeys underpinned by a suitably integrated IT infrastructure.
At worst: Customers are made to feel as if they are being done a really big favour every time they engage with the organisation. Big Data initiatives become focused solely on helping the business 'sweat' the customer as opposed to helping the customer maximise their experience.
At best: As Chief Sales Officer the CIO would be driven by the data. So job number one would be to create an omni-channel infrastructure so that the sales staff have a genuinely holistic perspective of those with whom they engage. The portfolio of offerings would likely become more profitable as the CIO harnesses news ways of unlocking customer value from embracing the latest technologies.
At worst: Relationships collapse like dominoes through an unhealthy focus on honesty. Just because the client is wrong, or even an idiot, there is no need to make the company's awareness of that so explicit.
At best: Talent engagement analytics becomes a reality. The emphasis on analysis and hunting out weak signals will appeal to IT function traditionalists. Expect an accelerated take up of wearable devices in respect of engagement analytics. A hyper-connected and engaged workforce will deliver hyper-grateful customers.
At worst: The CIO reverts to old school project management behaviour and maintains the HR function as an organic version of procurement. People are just resources to be sweated. And woe betide those whose personnel identity number does not appear on at least one corporate Gantt chart.
At best: The rate at which technology is evolving is far outstripping the pace at which we can assimilate it. Those that can do this the most effectively will gain a market advantage. Former accountants who are now CEOs are not best placed to do this. However many CIOs are. In an increasingly digital world having someone who understands the strengths and weaknesses of acquiring and assimilating new tech into the organisation is critical.
At worst: There is a danger that the organisation devolves into a collection of inward facing and overly ambitious multi-year projects. Customer value is an accidental by-product of this model. Given the project durations, the faint innovation heartbeat of the organisation will at some point necessitate foundations shaking corporate defibrillation.
I have of course been provocative in these scenarios. Regardless of whether they reflect you as an individual, they may well reflect the stereotypical thinking of the people tasked with making boardroom appointments.
So my advice is to be conscious of the negative perceptions, imagined or otherwise, and build your brand to enhance your boardroom value proposition.