SOA's Impact on the CIO Role

By Abbie Lundberg
Wed, March 15, 2006

CIO

Business leaders’ expectations of IT are growing. Back in 2002 and 2003, CIOs were primarily expected to control and cut costs—in their own shops and, through IT, in the rest of the company. In 2004 CEOs at a few leading-edge companies began asking their CIOs to help grow the top line through new IT-driven business innovations. Now, in a 2005 IDC survey of CEOs and line-of-business managers, a full 40 percent felt they needed to be more aggressive in their deployment of IT.

CEOs expect IT to be much more dynamic than it’s been in the past so that the business can make faster operational changes. The next-generation enterprise is being built on a fluid and flexible service-oriented architecture (SOA), with a mixed insourced/outsourced, onshore/offshore staffing model. It’s employing new technologies to enable speed and agility with greater degrees of intelligence and automation. This new technology environment is still evolving, and there are many questions yet to be answered: What’s the best governance model? How will standards be developed? What are the security issues? What will licensing models look like? And where will the staff (and the CIOs) with the necessary skills come from?

SOA puts technology into business terms so businesspeople can develop, reuse and change services themselves. It enables quicker rollouts at lower cost, providing faster time to market for new products and services, and thus creates competitive advantage. While few companies have completed the transition to a full SOA environment, there’s tremendous momentum in that direction. According to Gartner, by 2008, 80 percent of software development projects will be based on SOA.

But SOA will mean dramatic change for most CIOs and their departments. SOA empowers businesspeople to develop their own services, but it still requires CIO leadership to manage that process. It both enables and demands alignment. And it requires a different set of skills within IT: object-oriented development, business analysis and complex service orchestration skills among them. CIOs had better be hiring and/or building those skills now if they want to meet their bosses’ expectations.

CIO will be covering this transition in print, online, at our events and, in our next issue, through a new collaboration with our sister publication, Computerworld. You’ll find our existing collection of knowledge on SOA at www.cio.com/soa.

Are you ready for the next wave?

P.S. For a number of years now, some of our busy readers have been asking us to provide audio versions of our articles. As one CIO put it, “You need to find a way to insert yourself into the spare moments in my day.” So a few months ago, we started “CIO to Go”—downloadable MP3 versions of our features and some of our columns. You’ll find these with the articles on our website, as well as at www.cio.com/podcasts. Download a few before your next commute or session on the treadmill, and let me know what you think!

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