The new role of the CIO can be summed up in one word: consultant.
"Technology's role in the business is increasing" beyond the purview of the traditional CIO, says Andrew Wilson, CIO at giant tech consultancy Accenture. "The CIO has to embrace the challenge."
In the old days, the CIO would green light or, more often, red light technology purchases and manage all the technology in their data centers. They would provide service to internal customers much like a big telephone company would for customers — that is, at the CIO's discretion and with varying levels of customer service.
"A good consultant comes at it from an industry and client perspective and with an outcome rather than with tools and technology." — Andrew Wilson, CIO at Accenture\
The CIO's Role Is A-Changing
Times, though, have changed dramatically in the last few years. New and exciting technology in social media, mobile and cloud have empowered business leaders to seize control and benefit from technology directly. Today's business leader seeks to adopt immature, consumer technology that the CIO used to shun.
It's now contingent upon the new CIO to make the technology sales pitches, not receive them. The new CIO must show how IT services can help business leaders become better within their particular operations, as well as how a cross-departmental, holistic approach raises the tide and lifts all boats. The new CIO must advise and assist on technology adoption, not give orders and mandates.
In essence, the new CIO must become an internal tech consultant and reach out to business unit leaders in marketing, finance, human resources and other departments, Wilson says.
Accenture CIO Andrew Wilson
In truth, though, the CIO is in the perfect position to make a sales pitch.
"I spent time with our chief marketing officer on how to bring alive the value proposition of technology, which may be quite leading edge and possibly something we might not have automatically adopted in the way we used to operate," Wilson says, adding, "Don't be competitive with the C-suite."
CIOs and CMO Suddenly Must Be BFFs
There is no question that the relationship between the CIO and CMO is going through a sea change, as the CMO is forced to become tech savvy. Social networking, mobility, customer data and analytics are giving rise to the digital marketer. Suddenly, the CIO and CMO roles are overlapping. Thus, the CIO has to become a partner with the CMO or risk being left out of the technology purchasing decision.
While technology is shaking up marketing, finance is also undergoing a transformation. A joint Oracle and Accenture survey of 1,275 mostly CFOs and senior finance executives found that the CFO needs to be a technology evangelist. Nearly three-quarters of finance executives believe new technologies, such as cloud, mobile and social media, will change how finance is structured and run.
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