Every now and then you hear something different, something coming from a different perspective and a different vantage point. That\u2019s when it\u2019s time to sit up and pay attention. Recently, two of the most respected individuals in their fields made the following observations:\n\nMore on CIO.com\nAs the IT Role Changes, So Does the CIO\n\nIT's Third Epoch...and Running IT at Google\n\n\u201cI think you\u2019ll see a much higher degree of technical focus in the CIO and a higher understanding of technology in business across the C suite. The distinction that we\u2019re all so comfortable with\u2014that there\u2019s technology and there\u2019s business\u2014that distinction is going to vanish.\u201d That\u2019s Google CIO Douglas Merrill.\n\n\u201cThe role of the CIO is at a crossroads. CIOs can once again reinvent themselves\u2014and enhance their standing, influence and contribution to the corporation\u2014or their role will be marginalized: setters of technology standards, managers of infrastructure...or worse, overseers of a technically savvy procurement shop.\u201d That\u2019s IBM CEO Sam Palmisano.\n\nWhen I first read these statements, I immediately wanted to check my calendar because I thought I had gone back in time and was listening to Nicholas (\u201cDoes IT Matter?\u201d) Carr. Then I started thinking about why these two accomplished men were choosing this particular time to question the CIO\u2019s future when to me it seemed that the CIO role had regained whatever creditability it may have lost and has today more than earned its front row seat in the C suite.\n\nOne reason I came up with is that the rapid adoption of consumer IT in the enterprise is causing the computing platform to shift under the CIO\u2019s feet, pushing him to once again immerse himself in technology and perhaps distracting him from the business of being strategic and driving innovation. A year ago it was rare that CIOs would mention mash-ups, RSS, blogs or wikis, Ajax and APIs as topics and technologies they were focused on. Now it\u2019s common.\n\nAs Merrill says, \u201cIt\u2019s very difficult for classic CIOs to understand how to respond in the best way to this consumerization of IT. The nature of risk management is changing from clean cost-flow across technology to clean talent-flow into technology, which is a very different thing to manage.\u201d And a new challenge for CIOs.\n\nIt is this challenge and opportunity that CIOs will need to address in the coming year to ensure that they don\u2019t, as Palmisano warns, get marginalized. Is the CIO once again at a crossroads? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.\n\nPresident and CEO Michael Friedenberg can be reached at email@example.com.