The CIO’s Role in the World of Consumer IT


Hardly a week goes by when I don’t come across an article saying how the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is going to be diminished or that the IT budget is going to move to other departments.

imageThis just seems nuts. In a world where information is growing exponentially, the expert in helping an organization get value from information is going to be marginalized? As I see it, that is dead wrong.

The CIO of the future is going to have to be agile, knowledgeable, approachable, and working in step with every aspect of the business. From experience I can tell you that each business unit isn’t going to wait for their turn. This means that CIOs are going to actually have quality deputies to help out. This implies growth, not the opposite.

Marketing Spending More Than IT?

This is, of course, just an attempt to grab attention. As marketing becomes more driven by data, the need for information systems that can leverage that data is critical. With increasing demands for real-time responses, the lessons from “Big Data” will likely be required. Even so, in five years, marketing will not be spending more than IT. This is unless marketing decides to take over finance, sales, inventory, and content management for the entire organization.

These advanced marketing systems actually fail when they aren’t part of the overall corporate infrastructure. You can buy Marketo and leverage marketing automation all you want, but if that data isn’t connected to every other system, you are creating massive problems.

That is why it can’t  be marketing controlling IT for a large chunk of the organization. Marketing cannot operate in a vacuum. Marketing needs to work with the CIO to identify the right system that can protect information while insuring that everything works together in concert.

The past several months have shown me that IT needs to understand marketing’s mission more than ever before. Marketing automation is critical for the future of many organizations, but IT needs to lead the way with Marketing. Together.

Bypassing the CIO

The other viewpoint I hear is that instead of the budget moving out of IT is the purchase of IT systems by the line of business, bypassing IT altogether.

imageGenerally speaking, if that happens in a widespread manner, the CIO has failed and deserves the consequences of the descending chaos. This scenario will only happen if the CIO is completely out-of-touch with the needs of business and has shown an inability to respond to needs across the board.

Let’s be honest, things can creep up on a CIO. They can launch three innovative initiatives, stretch their staff to its limits, and the need for a fourth initiative can pop-up. The new requirement might be able to wait a week or two but not the months needed to free up resources.

That is when the CIO needs to adapt and work with the business. The CIO can still help find either a bridge or permanent solution for the business. The cloud-based options give CIOs a chance to help solve the problems now, without waiting for more resources.

CIOs can’t restrict the use of these tools. They have to embrace them and let the business know that they embrace these tools. If business think that CIOs are always going to say no, they’ll stop asking. Let them know that CIO is focused on solving the problem quickly in a way that helps all lines of business.

The Enterprise Irregulars had a great article on Consumerization and the Impact on IT. The list at the end covers what a CIO is going to have to do to be the leaders that organizations look to for solutions.

If the CIO is bypassed or controlled is taken over by a specific department, organizations risk the creation of information silos