2012: the outlook for CIOs

The CIO's task became harder in 2011. In 2012, IT leaders will need to cement their position as trusted advisers to the business, rather than just the person who keeps the lights on.

The CIO is responsible for ensuring systems continue to work, and will need to assess whether the best value comes from external providers, in-house IT, or a combination of both.

"At the high level, there are questions of risk management," cautions Gartner vice president and fellow Steve Prentice. "There is business risk, business continuity risk, even cyber terror. That is often the stalling point for the cloud: people are not 100 per cent, or even 90 per cent, comfortable with its reliability or resilience or security. CIOs cannot even be sure that the supplier will be there in the future."

The CIO's strategic role means putting these concerns in the context of the business, and helping buyers of technology understand the trade offs between price, risk and performance. At the same time, the CIO is responsible for ensuring systems continue to work, and will need to assess whether the best value comes from external providers, in-house IT, or a combination of both.

The idea of a "catalogue" of IT services is sometimes over used, but it is a helpful tool for explaining, where the money goes to business managers controlling IT budgets.

It can also help IT departments to formalise their approach to the consumerisation of technology. Some organisations will maintain lists of approved equipment they will buy for end users; others keep lists of personal equipment that can be integrated into the corporate network. The most sophisticated look at the data rather than the devices. The CIO will be central to this process, and will also be the key adviser to the business on new and emerging technologies and increasingly, new working methods too.

"There is a change in the agenda," says Philip Hopley, partner at IT adviser h2index. "For the CIO it was about putting in SAP or other large systems. The attention now is on how people behave and work, and the facilities they need to do their work well."

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