Emergence of the CCO. Chief Confused Officer

Much has been, and continues to be said about the role of the CIO.  Some say CIO is an acronym for ‘Career Is Over’, others see the CIO role being progressively eclipsed by the related, co-dependent roles of  the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), Chief Information and Security Officer (CISO) or Chief Innovation Officer (CIO).

There are as many perspectives as to the shape of the CIO role, and what the CIO should or should not be doing, many from the major consulting firms, IT vendors, IT analyst firms and the media.

So what’s the future of the CIO?

Whether the title CIO exists or not is a distraction from the real issue of  how the organisation as a whole, effectively balances and optimises the competing demands of, and for, enterprise technologies and their related processes and risks.

The spectrum of demands placed on enterprise IT are well known and include aspects such as greater project throughput, agility and speed, effective governance, risk management, low cost and so on.   The real challenge facing executives across all functions and at all levels, is that whilst the knowledge that information technology pervades every aspect of the organisation is widely understood and acknowledged, the fact that the  interdependencies between differing systems, technologies, information taxonomies, governance and risk profiles are often not. Whether the technologies used by the organisation are managed and hosted internally in the data centre, hosted externally or in the Cloud, the need for an understanding of these underlying relationships is no less important.

While the influence of the  democratisation of technology is shaping whole industries and markets, it is also forcing organisations to rethink their internal structures and processes on how best to utilise technology in order to remain competitive and relevant.  This is where the old world of enterprise IT meets the new, hyper-connected digital world.

Federate enterprise IT by all means, but don’t forget to federate the accountability for governance and risk.

At the end of the day, which executive is explicitly accountable for  the cost, value and risk associated with the use and deployment of the enterprise’s information and communications technologies? For example, if the CIO is accountable for the IT software, hardware and infrastructure, the CFO for cost and enterprise risk, the sales Director for margin,value and revenue, how are the linkages and relationships between these portfolios defined?  The reinforcement of the vertical (functionally aligned) silos and similar intra-company divisional boundaries  starve the CIO of the necessary oxygen, resulting in limited capacity to deliver enterprise-wide, transformational and innovative value.

Don’t forget your IT vendors

The conventional approach to managing IT vendors may not be adequate in the delivery of your new, emerging and disruptive business technology.  The shift from the capital intensive IT purchasing to the ‘-as-a-service’ model is only one of a number of fundamental changes reshaping the IT services delivery model – globally.  Line-of-business Executives who feel entitled to make enterprise IT procurement decisions should be acutely aware of the forces at play in the volatile IT vendor ecosystem

CIOs are not alone

The same could be said about the role of the CMO, or Chief Marketing Officer, where the winds of change are equally relevant. The globalisation of markets combined with the disruptive influences arising from the consumerisation of technology and empowerment of the individual customer are demanding that marketing should be able to know the customer with great granularity. The ‘market of one’, supported by an arsenal of technologies such as mobile computing (Apps, etc), big data, predictive analytics and business intelligence systems, is shaping the legacy Marketing function.

Question is:  As a CIO, CDO, CMO, CKO, CISO, CFO or CEO, are you able to delineate the respective accountabilities for cost, risk, value and governance over the spectrum of tasks required to support your organisation’s increasingly fragmented and federated IT footprint? Oh, and don’t forget the critical role played by the slew of IT vendors and service providers, on whom your organisation depends