John Pientka

The Return of the CIO

Not long ago pundits were writing the obituary for CIO’s. They were becoming as archaic as the VP’s of Electricity from the early 20th century. CDO’s, CTO’s even CMO’s were the future. Well, check again folks – the CIO is back!

Twelve years ago Nicholas Carr wrote the best-selling “Does IT Matter?” where he argued that we had wrung all the leverage out of information technology that we could and CIO’s were really just caretakers of the back office plant. Five years later in “The Big Switch” he describes the transformation of data processing from the old individual “walled garden” at every company to the current advent of cloud computing as a utility. He makes the analogy that this is just like the shift of electric power provision by firms in the early twentieth century – where every factory had its own power plant – to today’s method where electric power is tapped as a utility with flip of the switch access. Carr infers that today’s CIO might just go the way of the VP’s of Electricity that used to be needed to run those individual power plants.

It looked like he was on to something. Netflix – the ultimate cloud success story, which runs its whole operations on Amazon Web Services cloud – got rid of its CIO just a couple of years ago. Pretty soon the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) began to emerge in response to the belief that the CIO could not hack the companies’ need to embrace the tidal wave of digitization that was sweeping all industries.

Surveys showed that CIO’s were deluding themselves, they thought they had a seat at the high table when in reality their executive peers and their CEO’s really did not think so. Even Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) were being touted as the biggest budgets for IT and thought to be more likely successors to the CEO in the age of “software eating the world”.

digital-marketing

If you were a CIO things looked depressing and grim. The world you knew was being upended by cloud. You were running as hard as you could to just stand in place with over 80% of your budgets devoted to LODO (keeping the “Lights On and the Doors Open”) but everyone else wanted the new-new. Your ability as an IT organization to support the business seemed to slip farther and farther behind. Cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) applications enabled your peers to go around you. Shadow IT sprang up everywhere with little concern for the security and compliance issues.

Well, how have things worked out? Target just dumped its CDO after four months and indicated it was relying on its CIO, Mike McNamara, to honcho its badly needed digital restoration. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that pay for CIO’s is climbing rapidly “…reflecting both the growing importance of IT in the emerging digital marketplace and the broader role CIOs now play in front-office decision-making…” (BTW, Target’s CIO made a cool $10 Million!).

What? You thought I just told you CIO’s were anachronisms and on their way out like VP’s of Electricity. What’s going on? Well, all firms are now undergoing a digital transformation. But a recent survey from SAP indicates only 21%, or so, have their act together. It turns out that many of the best performing firms have turned to their CIO’s to lead this charge.

These CIO’s are masters of the new technology, especially cloud, and are at the same time consummate performers in working well with their peers to get the firm to the digital nirvana it seeks. They come from many different disciplines. While some have come up the IT path, a number have risen through operations, marketing or even R&D. The key is they get it. They grasp they new, rich digital tools and possibilities before them.

The role of CIO looks promising if the right individual can assume the mantle. But while things are looking up, a few sobering caveats are in order. The same SAP survey reports the CIO is the most likely member of the C-suite to take ownership of digital transformation efforts (37%), followed by the CEO (25%). But, IT departments as a whole are falling short when it comes to digital transformation: Sadly only 7% of executives said that they believe IT leads their organization’s attempts to identify ways to innovate, while 35% said they believe it should.

By John Pientka

John Pientka

John is currently the principal of Pientka and Associates which specializes in IT and Cloud Computing.

Over the years John has been vice president at CGI Federal, where he lead their cloud computing division. He founded and served as CEO of GigEpath, which provided communication solutions to major corporations. He has also served as president of British Telecom’s outsourcing arm Syncordia, vice president and general manager of a division at Motorola.

John has earned his M.B.A. from Harvard University as well as a bachelor’s degree from the State University in Buffalo, New York.

View Website

CONTRIBUTORS

Cyber Security Tips For Digital Collaboration

Cyber Security Tips For Digital Collaboration

Cyber Security Tips October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month – a joint effort by the Department of Homeland Security ...
What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

Selecting The Right Cloud Services Provider How to find the right partner for cloud adoption on an enterprise scale The ...
Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

ERP Deployment You know how ERP deployment can improve processes within your supply chain, and the things to keep in ...
Bryan Doerr

Cyber-Threats and the Need for Secure Industrial Control Systems

Secure Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Industrial Control Systems (ICS) tend to be “out of sight, out of mind.” These systems ...
Safeguarding Data Before Disaster Strikes

Safeguarding Data Before Disaster Strikes

Safeguarding Data  Online data backup is one of the best methods for businesses of all sizes to replicate their data ...
10 Ways The Enterprise Can Prevent Data Leaks In The Cloud

10 Ways The Enterprise Can Prevent Data Leaks In The Cloud

Prevent Data Leaks In The Cloud More companies are turning to the cloud for storage. In fact, over 60 percent ...
How Big Data Can Empower Native Ads

How Big Data Can Empower Native Ads

Empower Native Ads The realm of big data is expanding an astonishing rate, and its presence can be felt across ...
Financial Management Finds a Welcome Home in the Cloud

Financial Management Finds a Welcome Home in the Cloud

Cloud Based Financial Management The most cautious person in any organization is likely to be the CFO. After all, they’re ...
Why ‘Data Hoarding’ Increases Cybersecurity Risk

Why ‘Data Hoarding’ Increases Cybersecurity Risk

Data Hoarding The proliferation of data and constant growth of content saved on premise, in cloud storage, or a non-integrated ...
AWS S3 Outage & Lessons in Tech Responsibility From Smokey the Bear

AWS S3 Outage & Lessons in Tech Responsibility From Smokey the Bear

AWS S3 Outage & Lessons in Tech Responsibility Earlier this week, AWS S3 had to fight its way back to ...

NEWS

Hackers shut down infrastructure safety system in attack: FireEye

Hackers shut down infrastructure safety system in attack: FireEye

Hackers shut down infrastructure safety system (Reuters) - Hackers likely working for a nation-state recently penetrated the safety system of ...
Deloitte TMT Predictions: Machine Learning Deployments, On-Demand Content and Live Events Will Continue to Drive Growth

Deloitte TMT Predictions: Machine Learning Deployments, On-Demand Content and Live Events Will Continue to Drive Growth

NEW YORK, Dec. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Deloitte forecasts double digital growth in machine learning deployments for the enterprise, an increasing worldwide ...
email as a service

Google Data Analysis, Artificial Intelligence and Predicting Vaccine Scares

Social media trends can predict tipping points in vaccine scares Analyzing trends on Twitter and Google can help predict vaccine ...