by Mark Chillingworth

Major BP outsourcing deal demonstrates new CIO role

Sep 01, 2009

As you read this shares in BP are soaring high on the news that the British company has discovered a giant oil field in the Gulf of Mexico. BP, a CIO 100 ranked company, may cash in not only from the extra three billion barrels it may be about to extract, but also from the incredible savings it will make from its business processes and IT thanks to new deals with the major Indian outsource service providers. It has been a remarkable couple of weeks forBP, last week in one day it announced major outsourcing deals with TCS, Infosys, Wipro and IBM covering application management and development.

What these two news stories demonstrate is that the CIO in an organisation likeBP really is a deal maker first and foremost. The future of the internal IT department feels very fragile to me today. In a recent conversation with the CIO of a major British corporation on what career advice we should offer to the next generation of technology minded students he advised them to join the likes of IBM, Capgemini or Accenture.  In other words look to the specialist, large-scale providers, don’t even think of joining a large corporation that is not an IT firm, especially an oil company.

I’m sure the BP deal was made by someone highly literate in technology; their need for technology knowledge must surely be reduced. After all, why would you spend a reported $500 million if you felt you knew more? No the CIO today is a business person first and foremost someone who cuts deals that just happen to be for technology. Fleet managers are not Formula One drivers or mechanics, but they know how to get the best deal for the firm and property managers are not architects, the same now is very true of the CIO. 

And the oil discovery, just goes to show that our rejection of fossil fuels as a society seems as far away as it did at the outset of the industrial revolution.