There are four types of personas CIOs have to play today, says Ray Wang, principal analyst of Constellation Research.
"People see you as the chief infrastructure officer. What people also see is you are moving into chief integration officer," says Wang. "But what CIOs traditionally have not done a good job with is really the other two -- the chief intelligence officer and the chief innovation officer."
The first two roles represent the 'traditional' roles of the CIOs who find their budgets reduced, but the last two, which Wang describes as 'shadow IT', might involve looking at the cloud and renegotiating contracts.
Wang says CIOs can deliver on all these four roles by upgrading their skills.
A shadow CIO-like organisation can emerge on the business side to fill the roles of chief intelligence and chief innovation officer, says Wang. CIOs can also appoint "lieutenants" with one or more of these functions.
"You make the shadow side not necessarily go away but you can empower them to be successful," says Wang. "You need to at least give the business enough rope to move two steps ahead of you, but also not cause you to be two steps behind. Which means you are working in parallel [with them]."
But doing this is not straightforward. As Wang explains, business wants simple, sexy apps that are scalable. The CIO, on the other hand, wants an environment that is safe, secure and responsible. They have to play the responsible individual, he says. "If business wins, what happens to IT? You are stuck with the bill. What if IT wins? You don't have a business."
He predicts that in the next two years, "Business will buy everything they can because they think they can." The CIO has to play "catch up just enough" and to figure out how to standardise, otherwise the business is going to fail.
"You need to help them think through the integration framework that is required. You have to help think of the data security and the data models that you have to put in place, the process models that are there and if you can help people get there, then at least they can move forward but not move so far apart from where you are."
Dealing with disruption
Wang underscores the importance of getting this balance of business skills and tech savvy as enterprises face massive and unprecedented levels of change. For instance, if a CIO had a five-year IT plan in 2008, it would have missed Facebook, the cloud, mobility and will be sitting with "really ugly architecture".
So much so that today's corporate divide is now between "those who get disruptive technology against those who don't." And this gap, he says, "is going to be huge".
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