by Chris Potts

Beyond the Trillion Dollar Bonfire

Nov 21, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

As CIOs and their departments move into their next generation, promising to ‘enable’ others to achieve their business goals is unlikely to be enough. 

I had dinner the other day with Colin Beveridge, who specialises in information systems strategies, and has a provocative blog entitled Fighting The Trillion Dollar Bonfire. 

Colin is a man on a mission….

“Campaigning for a paradigm shift, moving forward from the redundant IT-centric paradigm, towards a new paradigm of truly effective information systems supporting successful organisations.”A few weeks ago he blogged “Who Says There Has to be a Function Called IT”, and “Nobody Needs a Chief Information Officer “.  If you’ve read my book “fruITion”, you’ll know why these particular headlines made me want to catch up with Colin (but if you haven’t read it yet, no spoilers!).

It turns out that Colin is not saying that the CIO role is dead.  However, he does observe that the premise of the current role is misplaced and, somewhat worryingly, that:

the current CIO definition is perceived to be interchangeable with Director/ Head of IT”In a follow-up blog “Long Live the CIO” he reveals his chosen scenario for the future of the CIO as a Chief Integration Officer, whose function is:

“To ensure that the enterprise integrates effectively with other bodies (individual, corporate or statutory) in all formal and informal interactions.”

Now, ‘ensure’ is a powerful word, implying accountability far beyond the traditional perception of the CIO, and her strategy.  This has primarily been centered on deploying systems that ‘enable’ others in the organization to achieve their business goals. 

In using the word ‘ensure’ in his scenario, Colin immediately throws down the gauntlet for any CIO aspiring to the inner circle of corporate leadership.  To ‘enable’ is unlikely to be enough.