The changing role of the CIO

CIO's today may understandably feel that they are the treading a fine line balancing the needs of the CEO, typically the visionary of the organisation and the CFO who is primarily concerned with mitigating risk and containing costs. At the heart of this are environmental pressure driving UK business and compelling organisations to reconcile the sometimes opposing objectives of ensuring efficiency whilst supporting innovation.

Harnessing the best in innovation to bring about bottom-line business improvements may seem like the holy grail in IT management but we think it is actually the same thing. As a service partner to thousands of UK businesses we know that, for many CIOs, their priorities are multifaceted but the expectation is that they can deliver to their objectives without increasing the cost base or footprint of IT.

The changing role of the CIO continually challenges the profession as a whole to govern the development of corporate IT that must keep the business running as usual while promoting innovation. Using managed services delivered from a cloud computing provider is one way to help do this.

By using the cloud to process simple tasks and run standard applications, the CIO can begin to free up capability and budget to focus on areas that need most attention — and ultimately deliver differentiation in the market that the business seeks in order to be truly innovative and therefore compete successfully.

The truth is today, a CIO without a cloud computing strategy may be at risk to more agile and future thinking competitors who embrace the opportunities presented to them. However, just saying you have a cloud strategy is not going to cut it either as it requires vision and new ways of working. Ultimately, this is changing the skills sets required of the CIO and his team.

I'd argue that the qualities that have always defined a CIO, the combination of leadership, commercial nous and mastery of technology, will not change fundamentally, as cloud services take a more prominent role. I'd also argue that cloud computing is not about a wholesale lift and shift of the IT department into someone else's data centre, although in some cases it can be.

All of this depends on the individual business involved, how it is organised and funded, the views and feelings of the leadership team and their appreciation of the opportunity, as well as their attitude to risk.

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