10 Predictions for What the CIO Role Will Look Like in 2020

CIOs can expect their jobs to change dramatically by the end of the decade. Expect an increased role in everything from business planning and cybersecurity to robot management and, of course, the cloud.

By John Brandon
Thu, May 03, 2012

CIO — What will the job of CIO be like in the year 2020? In many ways, the answer is already clear: The IT leader will still be the nucleus of any company, working closely with business executives and strategizing about future technology directions, leading a staff of highly trained professionals and championing streamlined technical operations. The position will still require a mix of analytical foresight and management prowess over the next decade.

 10 Predictions for What the CIO Role Will Look Like in 2020

At the same time, we also know that technology will change dramatically. Who could have predicted even 10 years ago that the CIO would have to deal with complications such as cloud security and virtualization? To find out how the role will change in eight years, we tapped industry leaders, analysts and CIOs themselves to discover what the challenges of 2020 for the CIO will be like. Here's what we found out.

1. Microsoft's reign may end.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic changes in 2020 could be a lesser role for Microsoft. Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta, an identity access management company, says the rise of iOS and Android have put a dent in Microsoft's dominance, but many companies have stuck with Windows Server for better or worse. However, mobile will likely end a Microsoft hegemony.

"In 2020, employees, customers and partners will demand—and expect—access to apps from more than one heterogeneous device," he says. "If the CIO has not built an infrastructure to support this, we're going to see a lot more, and likely very serious, security breaches by 2020."

2. The IT department won't be physical.

There's a dramatic shift to the cloud, but most of us can still tell you who works in IT, where the department is located and who is in charge. By 2020, there will be a shift from an IT department for end users to a "follow me" IT service provider mentality. In other words, IT itself will move to the cloud. The concept will shift from a department that manages cloud services to a cloud service itself.

Bob Janssen, CTO of RES Software, a company that makes Windows desktop management software, says the end-users of today are the last generation of corporate workers who can tell how and where IT is operating. The next generation won't even know. Those workers will have ties with about 150 other workers (on average); they grew up analog and learned digital.

3. Hyper-kinetic business collaboration will occur in the cloud.

High-definition videoconferencing has certainly made progress, but most meetings still take place in person. By 2020, McKinnon says, collaboration in the cloud will replace collaboration behind a firewall. This means the CIO will have to address how employees use cloud services. "As a result, the position of the CIO will evolve into one that emphasizes strategic business leadership—looking at where and how to best collaborate with business partners," he says. "This also means that the CIO will have had to address head-on the issue of moving information from behind the firewall in terms of security."

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