When did the CIO role die? Is the traditional IT leader position already dead or is the technology chief alive and kicking, ready for the next round of business challenges?
That debate has received much attention recently in the context of the continued growth of services, the ever-increasing potential to outsource non-core technology activities and the rise (eventually) of cloud computing.
It is the dominance of the latter that is leading speculators to surmise a grim future for CIOs, with line-of-business leaders expected to make IT spending decisions from consumer devices to on-demand enterprise systems.
Some experts, however, believe the rot kicked in years ago. In fact, Rob Enderle, who founded and leads his own advisory firm the Enderle Group and is a former analyst at Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, believes the CIO is already dead.
Enderle suggests the traditional technology chief was king during the mainframe computing era; demise – “the death of the CIO”, no less – came with the emergence of client/server computing, where PCs began being installed without the CIO’s approval.
Services, outsourcing and the cloud just offered more of the same – traditional IT leaders became marginalised and successful CIOs become a change agent for their internal business customers.
For CIOs who are successful, Enderle envisions a strategic future, “The CIO as CEO.” Those who are not face a far grimmer outlook, becoming “obsolete.”
But did the traditional CIO role really die 15 years ago? What about the hundreds of global CIOs that still exist today? Are they merely IT operators? And if they’re not, is the strategic vision for the CIO as a CEO a realistic endpoint? Will the business ever take IT that seriously?