by Mark Chillingworth

New Year, same need for change and CIO leadership

Jan 12, 20153 mins
CareersGovernmentIT Leadership

My working 2015 began with a digital experience that was positively archaic, which only served to remind me that as we welcome in a New Year, one thing remains the same, the continued pace of change. The ramifications of today’s pace of change were brought home to all of us over Christmas with the news of the failure of logistics firm CityLink, an organisation playing a key physical role in the digital revolution collecting and delivering goods as a result of online transactions, yet still weaknesses in its business model – not fully understood as yet – have brought the company crashing down.

As the digital revolution continues apace every organisation and every member of a team whether C-level or trades person has to offer a differentiation that will please consumers, whether on the open market or internally; therefore building loyalty and in turn sustainable business. Richard Corbridge, a CIO and CEO in 2015 talks of fans who are delighted by your organisation and in effect do the marketing for you.

Offering an identical product but with a different wrapper, or as I like to call it “me too products” is a sure fire way to ensure you are lost amongst the flotsam of an Internet era, briefly discovered before being thrown back into the sea of data. Reading about the failure of CityLink I was shocked to also read that according to Begbies Traynor, 24,000 UK retail businesses are in severe financial difficulties. Whilst we enter the painful five months of electioneering we will be continually told the economy is on the road to recovery, yet the figures from Begbies Traynor, who I trust more than a political party that takes funds from trade unions or oil firms and cuts its policy cloth accordingly, prove that the economy is changing. The real debate that has to be had at the board table and in the constituencies is how the world is changing and how to benefit from that change.

I mention Richard Corbridge becoming a CEO and CIO and he’s not alone, Sander Kristel’s wider change role as he swaps local authorities moving to Worcestershire from Staffordshire shows that CIOs with a track record of wider business change, not just technology modernisation, will prosper and fly the flag for our community. Outside of the public sector I know of a number of major CIOs leaving our community, driven, I surmise, by a desire to be involved in the very change business and society must face up to. Some are heading into the vendor world, others helping the new era of third platform startup businesses, this is both sad and positive for the CIO community. My only fear is that boards are not giving strong business technology leaders the change remit necessary and so our community runs the risk of a brain drain.

2015will no doubt see the noise around organisations replacing CIOs with CDOs increase, but the heart of the matter is that organisations need business technology leaders, no matter the job title. Business requires technology and business and technology require leadership. I’m not going to waste time rebranding this title, my pay masters chose CIO as the masthead, I will focus on delivering information to business technology leaders.