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Even Microsoft's CIO struggles with cloud, consumer devices

Nancy Gohring | Feb. 23, 2011
He may run IT for one of the best-known names in technology, but even Microsoft's CIO is grappling with new technology challenges like moving to the cloud and handling consumer electronics that employees bring to work.

"Devices come and go. I can't pivot my infrastructure every time there's a new device," Scott said.

While in a widely covered cutback over a year ago Microsoft stopped paying for employee iPhone contracts, IT still supports the phones. Microsoft workers have iPhones, iPads, Droids and many other devices, Scott said.

In addition, Microsoft gave all employees Windows Phone 7 devices. IT can control those devices and do things like enforce a PIN because the phones support Activesync. "Wherever we have Activesync we know what we can do with the device," Scott said.

Scott, and other CIOs, are also dealing with the changing roles of IT workers as the move to the cloud progresses.

David Stephens, director of technology services for Plano, Texas, recently moved to BPOS, Microsoft's hosted services offering that includes Exchange and SharePoint. The move created anxiety among IT workers who feared they'd become unnecessary and lose their jobs, he said. None have, because Stephens hopes the move to BPOS will free up IT administrators to work on the many projects they wanted to but couldn't because they were too busy managing servers and applications. Still, it's a struggle for the workers to make that transition toward projects and away from day-to-day maintenance, he said.

Scott said many of his peers are worried more generally about IT workers who are soon to retire, since the pipeline for new talent has changed. It used to be that consultants would hit a ceiling in their own organizations and decide to work internally at companies, becoming leaders. But with offshoring and budget cuts, that pipeline has dried up, he said.

At the same time, CIOs are being asked to do more than ever before, he said. "We're being asked to manage costs in different ways then we've ever been asked or challenged to before, and we're being asked to be accountable," he said. "CIOs are taking on the role of operations risk management."

 

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