Forrester Research claim that many CIOs are living in the past, with their lives focused on internal operations. According to Bobby Cameron of Forrester, in a report on digital transformation, and in an interview with TechTarget, there is a lot of immaturity still around in CIOs that can lead to career-threatening issues.\n\n\nCameron lists five such issues that threatens, according to him, the careers of as much as three quarters of CIOs in place today. The premise is that the CIO role has moved on rapidly in the last decade, and today\u2019s CIO must focus well beyond the bread and butter of operations, yet many are not doing that. \u00a0Indeed, if we look at the list, many aren\u2019t even succeeding well enough in the basics. Cameron gives the issues as follows (I\u2019ve ordered them differently from him):\n\n\nStaying in a \u201ctechnical debtor\u2019s prison\u201d \u2013 not moving on from old systems;\nThinking small \u2013 putting on plasters to existing systems rather than having a global strategy;\nNot having the trust of the business, by failing to deliver end-to-end systems;\nNot inspiring meaningful change in the organization;\nNot being focused on the customer.\n\n\nThe last element in this list may get many CIOs spluttering. Isn\u2019t customer focus what the last two decades have been about? Well, their \u201ccustomer\u201d and Cameron\u2019s customer are not the same. Let\u2019s take a moment and look at these issues in the perspective of the history of IT, and then look at where IT is going.\n\nClassic IT \u2013 The operator\n \u00a9 By NASA (Great Images in NASA Description) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons\n\nThe backbone of IT is operational \u2013 making sure that systems are running and are secured. Once, this could have been seen as the only duty of the CIO, to make sure the wheels keep turning. Young CIOs starting out will often still focus on this, and that is not a bad thing because ensuring that systems are reliable and secure, and looking at efficiency and cost-effectiveness are the essentials of being a CIO even today. They are, as people have been saying for a long time, the table stakes of being a CIO.\n\n\nMaking mistakes in this backbone of the CIO role will almost certainly put an end to your job, and you ignore legacy systems are your risk. If done correctly, the operational aspect of your CIO role will help to keep you in your job, but beware the first, second, and third items on Cameron\u2019s list. Operations have to evolve over time to meet the changing demands of the enterprise, and if that change doesn\u2019t go beyond upgrades and meaningful migrations, then you won\u2019t have a foot in the door of the executive committee and you won\u2019t have the ability to influence the evolution of even the IT organization.\n\nModern IT \u2013 The company in a company\n (c) Afzal Ballim\n\nWorrying about the first three issues of Cameron\u2019s list is what gave rise to what I like to call Modern IT, and this is where some CIOs will be confused by claims that they are not \u201ccustomer focused.\u201d These days most middle to large IT organizations are built using models such as ITIL, which are service models devised around the idea that IT is a service to customers, and IT only exists to provide service to those customers.\n\n\nTreating the users of the IT systems as customers gave rise to the vision of IT as a company within the company, and outsourcing and off-shoring have been major contributors to that view. If the rest of the business are customers to an IT organization, then why do we need to keep it in-house? Why can\u2019t we treat it as a commodity and buy it in?\n\n\nThis happens if you\u2019re not paying attention to items three and four of Cameron\u2019s list. The IT organization is not bringing business value to the enterprise beyond the services that it is offering. The CIO will not be a true member of the executive committee (presuming the CIO is on the executive committee in the first place), and won\u2019t have an opportunity to bring meaningful change to the enterprise.\n\nPost-Modern IT \u2013 The catalyst for business innovation\n Brian Solis \n\nHence the birth of today\u2019s IT. Let\u2019s call it the Post-Modern IT. The CIO and the IT organization does not only ensure day-to-day operations, nor provide services to its business customers (the rest of the enterprise), but is focused on bringing about digital transformation. In this world the focus is on the customer of the business, and not the customer of IT. You must \u201cbecome a customer-obsessed CIO leader who drives growth by embracing change,\u201d as Cameron said in an article for CIO UK.\n\n\nIt is no easy task, today, to find a top class traditional CIO, but it\u2019s even harder to find post-modern CIOs who understand digital, and that\u2019s what headhunters are being hired to find. \u00a0These CIOs are digital leaders, bringing their companies forward hand-in-hand with marketing to better reach out to the company\u2019s customers. Here is where we are paying attention to item five of Cameron\u2019s list.\n\n\nThe question, though, is where do we go next? We are already seeing the rise of the Chief Digital Officer, someone who\u2019s role is to tie all things digital together. Surely, that\u2019s the CIO\u2019s job? Why do we need a new role? Is it because many, more traditional, CIOs are failing to make the post-modern step? Is the CIO role stretched to the breaking point?\n\n\nI believe that as we move forward we need CIOs who can master the three faces of IT \u2013 Classical, Modern, and Post-Modern. They need to be able to ensure that everything runs well, that internal customers are happy, and very importantly, they must master the digital transformation of the enterprise and bring meaningful change to the enterprise. The new CIO must be a catalyst for business innovation.\n\n\nIn my next article I\u2019ll start looking at how you can go begin to go about bringing such change to your organization, and how you can start to make 2016 the year of the customer.