The demise of the CIO and the IT Department has been predicted for some time. Now, the emergence and rapid adoption of cloud technologies has added new weight to the assertion that many IT operations have become too slow to respond to the demands of new agile business models.
Analysts estimate that 80% of today's IT budget is now spent servicing technology buying decisions that were made five or ten years ago. This suggests that the gap between the demand for business innovation and the CIO's ability to find the funds and resources needed to deliver it is likely to become ever wider.
There is also a growing recognition that unburdened by legacy decisions and historical investments, organisations would be free to buy whatever application or infrastructure they need from any number of service providers via a flexible choice of consumption models.
Is there a future for the CIO and the IT department?
Could the average CIO and the IT department compete realistically in an open market against an array of 'new model' service providers offering cloud as the 'only viable option' for survival?
Will they ever be able to keep pace with the demand for business innovation when they are so heavily burdened with the obligation to fund and maintain up to a ten-year legacy of technology decisions and investments?
Some commentators suggest that the cloud is to the CIO what the huge meteor was to the dinosaurs. That may be a rather extreme analogy. But if it rings true, it should serve more as an alarm bell than a death knell.
In a new 'cloud' world where every facet of technology is available on-demand, as a service, from specialist providers who are perceived as being faster, cheaper and more innovative, most CIO's will struggle to remain relevant.
However, there's a huge difference between facing a struggle and facing extinction. After all, the dinosaurs had no alternative path when the meteor hit, the CIO does!
A new dawn for the CIO and the IT department
The role of the CIO and the IT department is set to become even more important to their organisations and line of business colleagues. The CIO and IT will not maintain and increase its relevance by standing still.
In the coming years, a new kind of IT department will need to evolve; one that becomes the critical conduit between the business and a select portfolio of specialist technology and service providers. It will be the CIO's role to perfectly align the needs and ambitions of the business with the technology and services that are required to fulfil them.
The position of the CIO will become comparable, in the minds of their business customers, to the expanding number of managed and cloud service providers who offer everything the IT department does today.
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