With the CIO role under greater pressure to change than at any time since the bursting of the dot com bubble a decade ago, is the clamour from some quarters for the rise of the Chief Innovation Officer soon to be answered?
Mike McClure, Canberra-based Principal Consultant with rapidly growing international professional services organization Ajilon, has been watching the industry and the CIO role with keen interest ever since the bursting of the dot com bubble left organizations thrashing about and covered with the embarrassingly sticky goo of over-exuberance.
During that time, he says, the quintessential CIO has morphed from conservative to archetypical charismatic/visionary public figure, before the bulk of CIOs found themselves largely pushed back into the server room in 2000/2001.
There has followed a period of slow and steady change as the business-focused IT people disavowed the flamboyance of the 1990s, when venture capitalists were handing out cash like candy and IT was in a frenzy to commit beyond its ability to deliver, in favour of a user- and business-centric focus much more likely to deliver sustainable growth.
"Many people have predicted that those who maintain themselves as IT generalists and who also have an understanding of the business of their company are going to become the next generation of CIO," McClure says. "Their broad understanding of business and how IT can be applied to improve business processes, market advantage and/or profitability give them something to say when sitting at the Big Table.
"The claim that the top IT position should have more of an understanding of business can be supported by the evidence of the frequency of IT driven business architecture exercises being done poorly (poorly understood or questionably relevant results)."
But McClure senses that we have now reached a point where smaller organizations, acutely conscious of IT's reputation for poor business acumen, are giving up and combining CIO/Operations Manager positions, even as their larger counterparts push CIOs to have even greater impact on the business, while leaving the day-to-day operations to the CTO and/or the Operations Manager.
In the light of these trends, he wonders, is it time to retire the Chief Information Officer and bring forth in his place the new position of Chief Innovation Officer?
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