by Mark Chillingworth

Idle IT is out of order

Mar 02, 2011
IT Leadership

Just a week before the last issue of CIO UKwent to press our CIO Executive Council hosted a forum to discuss the future state of the CIO role and in particular the challenges and opportunities cloud computing poses for the role. As ever with a room full of CIOs the debate was engaging, occasionally provocative and, as this was a closed shop to vendors, at times brutally honest. It became apparent from all concerned in the discussion that the CIO role and that of IT now has the opportunity to challenge the business, because if it doesn’t cloud computingwon’t be an opportunity, it will be a threat. Paul Coby, formerly the CIO at British Airways, and Jane Moran, CIO of Thomson Reuters, both described best practices for getting close to the business and then challenging it to use technology to improve processes, to use the IT team as internal consultants and to imagine the possibilities of what the organisation could do. What these two heavyweight IT leaders were saying is that they and their departments were not merely order-takers and that there is no space for an order-taker in an organisation like BA or Thomson Reuters. In fact, is there space for order-taking in any industry today? A commercial team that relies on a few select contacts is of little use: I want – and have – a team that brings me ideas in the form of articles. An IT leader that relies on the business to bring them the ideas doesn’t deserve to be called a CIO. Interestingly, despite the boldness of the debate, all those CIOs present seemed to agree that the importance of good technology people with deep skills who keep the lights on is under-valued and something that needs to be re-appraised.