Blog: Split the CIO Role Into Two

Blog: Split the CIO Role Into Two

Walter Mossberg (Wall Street Journal) thinks IT organizations are regressive and poisonous because their policies get in the way of individuals using what they want. And Rudy Puryear of Bain thinks the CIO job is really two jobs, internally focused and externally focused. Maybe he is right, but for other reasons. Consider:

We all know that IT operational excellence is a baseline, not a nice-to-have expectation of businesses today. We also know that everyone (outside of IT) can find a technology on their own and insist on having and managing it themselves. And we know that if it weren't for the users who want to use stuff that is not part of agreed-to-standards, (see comments on the blog link above), IT would be easier to manage, and IT operational excellence easier to achieve.

So maybe the problem is that we call this entire landscape (user-selected and IT-operated) technology? What if the user stuff should be discovered, researched, advocated, and priced by one organization and when its use reaches a tipping point level (of either usage or disruption) that mandates operational excellence, management of it moves over to the organization formerly known as IT?

Now what if we called that other organization Technology Discovery (or some such), put the head of it (a CTO or some such) under a broad job like COO or CMO, and built some sub-organizations dealing with emerging technology, experimentation, and discovery of what users want to use?

Isn't this split the kind of logical split that divided new development from maintenance in the old days? In large organizations especially, it was really a recipe for failure to keep these two responsibilities together. And IT organizations over time gained mastery at the border points, honing the ability to do an effective hand-off.

Just so today, keeping the IT operational excellence role and sponsoring exploration of new end user and business technologies under the same individual is a recipe for becoming 'regressive and poisonous' -- even if you are convinced that it can't happen to you.

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