CIO: Career is over?

Has the role of the CIO had its day. Or, is such a leadership vision needed now more than ever? In the first of his new monthly columns, Mark Samuels takes a look…

Mark Samuels

The Doctor's Surgery: Dr Mark Samuels, editor at advisory organisation CIO Connect, examines the future role of the IT leader in this new monthly column.

Regular proclamations throughout the media from so-called experts make the same assertion about IT leadership: CIO stands for career is over' and the technology chief is an endangered species that will soon be executively extinct.

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Such a standpoint is, in short, ridiculous. The rise of the digital business means technology, and its management, has never been more important to a successful organisation. So, why is there a belief that the CIO role is on the way out?

The successful technology leader has bigger fish to fry. And, in order to extend a cooking-based image to breaking point, CIOs are frying those fish in a transformational sauce.

One possible explanation is that, while technology underpins modern business, it has also become increasingly consumable. Long gone are the days when you looked forward to getting to the office so you could use a quick computer to surf the web.

People that still work from an office in era of flexible working find the technology on their desk is incompatible with the online experience outside the workplace. Individuals consume better devices at home than they do in the office.

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Such an increase in consumerisation leaves many employees to question the role of the internal IT department. But here's the thing. Great CIOs are not simply concentrating on the operational IT concerns of the business anymore.

The successful technology leader has bigger fish to fry. And, in order to extend a cooking-based image to breaking point, CIOs are frying those fish in a transformational sauce.

Yes, some of the kit in your company might be a bit old hat. And, yes, it is frustrating when your experiences of technology are better at home than in the workplace. But keeping those bits of legacy technology up-and-running represents the operational concerns of the traditional CIO.

Leading-edge technology chiefs are instead transforming operations as they run business IT. They are creating a digital strategy that accounts for the demands of tech-savvy consumers, cloud computing users and data-loving mobile workers.

Smart CIOs transforming IT for the benefit of the business, explaining to their c-suite peers how an ecosystem of carefully selected partners and technologies can provide a platform for prolonged business growth. Only the CIO can provide such input, and certainly not the FD, the HR executive or any other line-of-business expert.

In short, the CIO's career is from over. In fact, the digitisation of business means the next course of the IT chief's career looks very tasty indeed.

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