Business vs Technology; it is a topic of conversation that I come across on a frequent basis. Focused on the change space as I am, I am regularly seeing positions and skillsets that do steer in favour of one or the other; however the lines are becoming increasingly blurred.
What is an interesting concept to explore is how this has affected the remit of the CIO, or the information technology Change Agent, within varying organisations. It can be argued that the continuing integration and intricate weaving of technology into the business has resulted in the role remit of the CIO changing from a role driven purely by technology into one more focused around strategic definition and business advisory. Increased understanding at board level of information technology as a critical enabler of change within the business has undoubtedly given the CIO more clout in the boardroom. The CIO role is now more of a balancing act across boardroom and basement, still maintaining a degree of technological control whilst providing a problem solving insight from a technological perspective at board level. This has been driven by both a shift in thinking on how technology and the business interact but also by a continued focus on the outsourcing of many of the maintenance functions within the technology department. The CIO has had to adapt their role remit in order to remain relevant to the business.
This conscious shift in thinking at board level of information technology as a critical business enabler, (for more info see ‘The Importance of Being IT’) has led to other C-Level executives taking on aspects of responsibility for technology thus easing the load on the CIO. Marketing for instance taking on sizeable aspects around data analytics; accountability however must be divested accordingly. The buck cannot be passed back to information technology if aspects were to fail. This is a crucial element of successfully weaving technology into the fabric of the organisation.
Where the role of the CIO goes from here is an interesting thought. With businesses across industries upping the focus on customer experience, technology departments must again adapt to operate in truly user focused domain. The continuing rise of social media platforms can be utilised effectively to not only liaise with the external customer base but also as an efficient and easy way of managing internal communications within the workforce.
In my thinking, the technology department will continue to change and develop as new cutting edge technologies come to market. With more and more businesses embracing digital and increasing focus on user experience, the role of the CIO will undoubtedly develop and shift again. However, it is going to be the continued shift away from maintenance heavy roles into a more business problem solving capacity that will be shift that the CIO must take in order to carry clout in the boardroom.
By: Thomas Hancock