IT organisations need to move from "repository of technology" to "service factories that produce flexible services people want to consume", says Chuck Hollis, vice president, global marketing CTO at EMC.
"The mission for IT has changed. So many IT organisations were created as a monopoly."
Today, however, he says business users have alternatives and will take their credit cards to use it, in reference to cloud services.
His advice? 'Be a competitive IT service provider."
"It is not about technology but refactoring the way we produce our services," Hollis says in his keynote at the EMC Forum 2012 in Sydney .
IT organisations have the opportunity to go from "cost centre to value generator to the business", he says. "Data shows going forward IT will own the relationship with the business and build or broker services that make sense."
But he says IT organisations have to compete as a service provider, while being competitively priced and deliver new projects quickly "without the typical six months, 60 people and six million dollars".
Hollis points out there are dozens of competitive service providers and IT organisations need to benchmark themselves against them.
"Maybe you cooperate with them, maybe you compete with them," he says. "There should be a healthy tension between production and consumption like in other economic models."
Agents of change
He says ICT leaders likewise have to undertake their own transformation, to see themselves as "agents of change."
"IT as a broker of services, this is a very different style of IT leader," he says.
At the same time, CIOs also have to consider the new skills demand in the IT organisation as they move towards virtualisation and cloud services. These range from cloud architects and cloud administrators, and security experts. "Datacentre management is completely different in a cloud environment," he says.
"There has never been a better time to be an IT professional. Our industry is changing into an information economy and you have all the opportunities to get out of the backroom to the board."
"Talk about the power of information business to help our companies make decisions to thrive in this new digital world," he suggests.
For futurist Tim Longhurst, a critical step for ICT leaders is to "look at how the world is changing and what the opportunities are".
Major challenges that were not solved by previous generations can be solved by technology, says Longhurst, who also spoke at the EMC forum.
For a CIO, he says, it is not about cost cutting anymore, but "being visionaries", seeing the world as it could be through technology.
"What is going on out there, what are the possibilities? We understand the technology, we need to be visionaries in our organisations. Transformation won't happen without our output."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.