The other day Frank Gens, a senior vice president of\n research at IDC (a sister company to CIO\u2019s publisher),\n briefed a gaggle of CIO editors about software as a service\n (SaaS): the direction of the market (up, up, up!); the evolving\n target customer for the big vendors (small and medium-sized\n businesses, or SMBs); the drivers behind enterprise adoption\n (line-of-business executives, who are less timid about the software-as-a-service\n\t model than CIOs); what those executives are looking for\n (business value and business relevance, what else?); why CIOs\n should focus on SaaS now (\u201cIt gets your head out of the\n infrastructure and into the business,\u201d said Gens) and the\n role of IT in the future enterprise.\u201cIT,\u201d Gens concluded, \u201cis the underwear\n for business services.\u201dNot very glamorous, is it, being in charge of the\n business\u2019s skivvies? The CIO title, one might hope, would\n put one in a more exalted position. Maybe being in charge of\n the business\u2019s ties or suit jackets. But, according to\n Gens, and according to our cover story, \u201cThe Truth About Software as a Service\u201d, thinking of oneself as a provider of\n business services is a lot more promising\u2014and leads to a\n brighter future for CIOs\u2014than thinking of oneself as a\n bulwark and guardian of the enterprise\u2019s infrastructure.\n That, CIOs seem to agree, is a career dead end.Of course, one must be realistic. \u201cThe Truth About\n Software as a Service\u201d does not buy in to the hype that\n any business function in any size enterprise can be handled\n through a SaaS delivery model\u2014and, indeed, adoption\n rates, while growing, are still relatively low.\n \u201cDon\u2019t expect something unique. If you need\n everything customized, you won\u2019t have success with\n SaaS,\u201d says Lloyd Hohenstein, VP for finance, human\n resources, real estate and corporate communications at Schwab\n Technology. But then again, do you really need something\n unique? \u201cNo one\u2019s going to care who you\u2019re\n using for payroll or Web conferencing, or even office\n productivity applications,\u201d says Martin Perry, CIO of IT\n staffing firm Sapphire Technologies.What\u2019s interesting to me is how quickly SaaS\n talk\u2014IT talk about software and applications, integration\n and security\u2014turns into business talk, talk about\n business processes and adding value to the enterprise.That is the conversation CIOs need to have, and that,\n increasingly, is the conversation they are having. Are you?