The CIO Discussion

The CIO role discussion is on fire, and conferences all over the world dedicate considerable time to the ongoing dialog. To add more meat to the discussion, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) recently positioned Business-Led IT as a model for the future. Chris Mixter, senior director of advisory services for CEB distinguishes it from Shadow IT in this quote from a Forbes Article by Nikki Goth Itoi:  

“This is not about the willful or ignorant duplication of core IT services. Your internal business customers are bypassing IT and investing in activities that are driving a critical business outcome.” 

This emerging Business-led IT is therefore not what we have historically called shadow IT. The CEB recently found that 78% of business leaders’ priorities for 2014 were dependent on technology. This drives a keen interest in business-led IT, which shares three primary characteristics:

  • Funding comes directly from departmental budgets
  • The ideas do not require IT approval
  • Capabilities are delivered using business resources, external providers, and/or the cloud

Where speed takes priority over efficiency or cost, IT could be shut out of critical business initiatives. According to the CEB, the business spends three times as much on innovation as the corporate IT function does. It is said that you can’t be a CIO these days if you are not versed in the business. Considering the previous statistic on the dependence of business priorities on technology, the same may be true about business executives that are not versed in technology. As business leaders become more technology savvy, the business-led IT phenomenon broadens. The above article also positions an interesting twist on the war for talent. Here’s Chris Mixter again:

“Let’s face it, the best technology graduates in the world aren’t terribly stoked about working in corporate IT. They want to go work in marketing, R&D, or supply chain. And none of those functions are held accountable to the strict pay scales in the HR hierarchies that we are.”

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IT and Business Integration

The CMO and CIO relationship discussion has been raging for months, and there is a growing perspective that IT budget ownership will shift from IT to the business. Add to this the growing list of new executive roles, and the role of CIO could look very different in the near future. I recently participated in a panel discussion on this topic at a CIO Summit attended by over 40 CIOs. I was somewhat surprised by several of the answers provided by the CIO panel, as well as those provided to poll questions posed during the session. It would indicate that those raging discussions about IT and business integration are unfounded. I thought I’d get a different perspective from someone with one of those new executive titles, so I interviewed Heidi Schwende, a Chief Digital Officer with WSI World. The following are her thoughts on similar questions.

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Progress Towards Systems of Engagement

In my recently concluded transformation series, I identified Systems of Engagement as a key enabler of the future enterprise. A recent Survey conducted by Forrester suggests that systems of engagement will soon rearrange the landscape of IT organizations, technologies, architectures, budgeting, funding, and governance. It is not surprising that in this age of the customer, systems of engagement are finally getting attention – but as the survey reports, they require more than organizations are prepared to deliver.

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