The Emerging Role of the CIO

ImageThe context in which I earlier started the discussion on the emerging role of CIO was when a friend was appearing for an interview and the organization leaders had thrown him a project challenge to solve. I told my friend he didn’t need the job, he was already in a very good position. However, if they wanted him, it should be for the right reasons. Don’t undercut yourself! And this is an advice I would give all current and future Chief Information Officers (CIO).

In the modern world, Information without Innovation is nothing. And then Innovation is about how effectively Information about Products, Processes and Services are distributed to the audience of choice in New Markets, Segments and to specific demographic and psychographic requirements. In order to understand this paradigm, one has to accept the premise of an enterprise being not just restricted to the boundaries of the business but rather unbounded by its ecosystem. Then the interchangeable relationship between Information and Innovation will start falling into place.


The Evolving CIO

The above illustration should help us understand the point of arrival for this debate. From Information Technology & Systems being data-centric to idea-centric is a colossal transformation in the way life and commerce is shaping up. The data center manager emerged from the shadows of the finance organization to independently implement enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM & EAI to own large Information systems’ shop including outsourcing vendors who chipped in with cheap labor. The evolution of the CIO starts here with the CIO 1.0 being concerned about software and applications within the enterprise and the CIO 2.0 being concerned about using intelligently for the benefit of the business. Both these versions of CIO were / are still viewed as cost centers that support the business. Technology & Applications were an enabler when they supported the decision making within the enterprise.

The CIO 3.0 should be concerned beyond this. Where every business is transacted on processes and systems being available on a socially mobile cloud, the CIO is first concerned about the information available to an external customer at the rate of use in real-time as that of an internal customer. There is a greater emphasis on the enterprise architecture being strong foundationally to accommodate the dynamic growth of market and customers influencing the growth of processes and systems as opposed to the other way round traditionally. The business processes must inherently be built with the transaction brokers that impact systems dynamically at all touch points of an enterprise; read as the business ecosystem. This is the new world of choice where you can search, compare, consult and conduct a business transaction in real-time irrespective of the model; B2B, B2C, C2C and / or P2P.

Processes and Systems supported by strong enterprise architecture are foundational to information abstraction and renewal of business models, processes and systems that can dynamically address the growth objectives of an enterprise; be it a P&G or a start-up that sells a new detergent. Commerce is not controlled like government and there is true democracy here. And more of the next generation wants to break the shackles of monopoly and evolve continuously.

It is very myopic therefore to view the current and future context with the reference to the past. The organization structure and reporting relationships of the past are irrelevant. The customer is truly your boss today and your salary comes from the differential that your customer is willing to share for the value perceived in exchange for the product, processes and services your business offers. This is the work that the role of CIO has to endure.

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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