Leadership

Why 2012 is decision time for CIOs

2012 is going to be a year of hard decisions for CIOs, and the new CIO Insights blog is here to help

Welcome to the new CIO Insights blog: whether it’s deciding which new technologies will have the biggest impact on businesses, or how to explain the value of IT to the board, we’ll be looking at the big issues of the day for IT chiefs.

This blog will be featuring the experiences of real-life CIOs and IT leaders alongside original reporting, and CIO Insights will also be home to the CIO Jury, our regular poll of IT chiefs on the issues that matter to them. In this blog you’ll also find our jargon-busting Cheat Sheets series which explains complex tech concepts for a business audience. Some of our readers may know both of these from our sister publication silicon.com.

More than any other senior exec, CIOs are facing huge amounts of change to their jobs this year, making 2012 a time of big decisions for smart CIOs. A few reasons why:

  • Consumerisation and the bring-your-own-device culture mean everyone in the workplace considers themselves to be an IT expert, challenging the CIO's ability to control the equipment used to access corporate systems.
  • The rise of cloud computing means that the days of lazily presiding over an empire of servers are numbered, with the result that CIOs have less physical control over their core infrastructure than ever before.
  • IT budgets remain flat - if you’re lucky- but at the same time CEOs are demanding that CIOs prove their claim that IT can drive more profitable businesses.

All of this - and plenty more - means the old certainties of the CIO's job are being washed away like King Canute’s sandcastles. And to make sure that they don’t get swept away too, CIOs have got some big decisions to make this year about what their role is and how they can help the IT team and the rest of the organisation succeed. For example - how do CIOs excel at their job and distinguish themselves when their hardware is virtualised, their software in the cloud and staff choose their own hardware?

But what do you think? What is the top priority for the CIO? Where should they be placing their bets this year?

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

9 comments
waltersokyrko
waltersokyrko

The business often comes up with crazy ideas that need to be killed as soon as possible. This is especially difficult when the crazy idea comes from the President or CEO. CIO needs to have the intestinal fortitude to do that. Getting ahead of the curve makes saying no much easier. Yes, Mr. President, our organisation can use cloud computing to increase flexibility of delivering IT services. No, the company that you read about in the Wall Street Journal is not a good candidate because their technology does not integrate with our current IT or the company will not commit to appropriate SLA or ... IT unit has investigated options and company X is the preferred vendor. It will cost $10M +/- 30%. Do I have your approval to start negotiations with company X? Unfortunately, most CIOs concentrate on short term problems and never get ahead of the curve. The conversation goes something like this. Yes, Mr. President, I will contact the company that you read about in the Wall Street Journal. The implementation fails (too costly, takes too long, does not provide expected benefits) but the CIO keeps his job because he was following orders from the President.

tim.oconnnor
tim.oconnnor

Ride the wave... encourage virtulization, build your own cloud, select and recommend which BYOD devices you will support. Get out in front and lead (isn't that part of the job). CIO's can easily shine and prove their value with all the new technology coming our way. Keep up with the technology or you will be left behind.

glen
glen

I agree this is a big year for CIO's but it will extend beyond this year. I am already seeing virtualisation, cloud, bring your own equipment etc. causing the percentage of IT spend controlled by the CIO decrease. All the aaS's - especially SaaS mean that the customers of the CIO can now choose to go elsewhere, the monoply is over and commoditisation of solutions is beginning. The big question in organisations will be whether they need a CIO or not (probably totally missing the strategic partner and vision role the CIO cold play). I think many will go without a CIO and then learn the hard way how difficult and strategically important a well managed information system strategy and execution is. Probably the most endangered IT roles would be in the in-house data centre. They will be no more needed than in-house electricity generation. IT will matter very much, but running platforms (hardware and layered software) will be far cheaper and more reliable out of house. CIO's should start to get their business architecture and enterprise architecture capabilites up to speed. They will support the procurement manager in making data centre service provider choices and contracts.

david.gwillim
david.gwillim

I look forward to the blog Steve. This is a question I have long pondered as my fortunes as a CIO have waxed and waned periodically. Ultimately it has to be about people not the technology. CIO's can thrive in 2012 more than any time in the past by letting go of the technology. David

glen
glen

It may come as a surprise to many in the US, but the correct English spelling of Oranisation is not "Organization". Just as centre is not "center".

vangeaux
vangeaux

Start by learing how to spell organization ? vangeaux

KaGeN101
KaGeN101

Well neither is it oRanisation, maybe organisation is what you meant. But surely if you want to point out someone else's spelling or techniques make sure your own is in order first.

fotopjim
fotopjim

Its the Queen's English - look it up in the Oxford Dictionary!