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CIOs who try to maintain walls shall perish: Adriana Karaboutis

Anup Varier | May 2, 2013
The speed of IT evolution has had a significant impact on CIOs across the globe. At Dell, Adriana Karaboutis, in her role as Global CIO, is responsible for driving Dell's IT organization evolution--from managing an efficient and innovative global information infrastructure to creating innovative breakthroughs that provide technology advances for the company and its customers. We spoke to her about the role of the internal IT team in enabling business transformation.

Do you think it is necessary to try and reduce users' dependency on the IT team and promote self-service IT?

Self-service is something we are looking at even for our external customer care. We are, therefore, absolutely considering it for internal processes. And it is not for reduction in IT costs, but because we recognize that users want to be empowered. As a matter of fact, our user experience head tells us that it is all about self-service, BYOD, and how they can be more empowered in decision-making.

The line between IT and business is blurring fast. The CIO who tries to maintain walls and tries to own everything is the CIO who will go down quickly. This is now about a CIO who enables environments and allows choice and self-service as we move forward and look at the next best innovations.

So, do you mean that CIOs should enable such initiatives?

Not just enable the process, but also be accountable for it and ensure that no matter how it is done, company information remains secure. When users go out and sign up for things, they don't look at it with a wide-angle lens to understand what should be stored in a hybrid or a public cloud and what should stay in the private cloud. When you show them why it's helpful to do it via the IT team, and especially if you do it faster, the business partners will trust you.

Don't you think such a situation, where technical expertise alone is not sufficient, reduces the relevance of the CIO as the IT person?

The CIO role is continuously evolving. If a CIO is stuck in the way things were done before, and wants to own all IT and implementation decisions, then the COO or the CMO or the CFO would take over, depending on the company you are in.

But if CIOs evolve into Chief Innovation Officers, they can stay relevant.

Would you say you have it easier because you are the CIO of an organization that understands IT?

I think being able to think along with the business, and being innovative are qualities relevant to businesses, irrespective of the industry they operate in. The big difference at Dell is that there are thousands of employees who know as much about technology as I do. So, I have to be pretty much on my toes all the time.


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