Modern CIOs need to become "brokers of technology" as the move from distributed to cloud computing places pressure on them to deliver IT infrastructure in an era where consumers are in control.
This was a key message delivered to 5000 business leaders by CA Technologies CEO Mike Gregoire at CA World in Las Vegas on Monday.
According to Gregoire, power has shifted from enterprise IT to consumers who expect the experience they have on their personal devices to be mirrored across the enterprise.
He quoted Cisco figures which suggest that by 2020, there will be 50 billion devices connected to networks worldwide or six devices for every person on earth. These include next-generation devices such as appliances in the kitchen, healthcare equipment such as "pacemakers that have wireless connectors."
"There's a whole new generation of devices that need to be managed, they all generate data," he said.
In the last year, technology users worldwide generated 7.9 zettabytes of data, which will rise to 35 zettabytes generated by 50 billion devices by 2020 and 70 per cent of this data is coming from outside the enterprise. (A zettabyte is equivalent to 250 billion DVDs.)
This shift puts an incredible amount of pressure on the CIO and it is changing the relationship between the CIO and the business – between the CIO and the CEO, Gregoire said.
"If you are a CIO, it's no longer about the size of your data centre, the number of employees under management, the MIPS under management; nobody cares.
"It really comes down to, 'What have you done for me lately? What have you done with this huge budget I have given you – all this infrastructure to help me grow my business?'" he said.
Gregoire believes that the technology industry is now at a "pivot point" from distributed to cloud systems, which he said is "not going to be a graceful transition."
"The transition from mainframe to distributed [computing] was rather slow and we could see it, we could predict it and it was difficult but we understood it," he said.
"I think we are going to see a different pivot point as we move from distributed [computing] to the cloud; it [ the transition] is going to be hard, it's going to be violent and we have to pay attention to it."
Raising the stakes
The proliferation of devices across the enterprise has created "an incredible set of circumstances for CIOs", Gregoire said.
"First, it raises the stakes on security and application management. When you have that many devices out there and all of your data out there – your responsibility to the corporation is to make sure that that data is protected and your applications work the way they are intended to becomes a difficult problem," he said.
"Second, with infrastructure, platform and software-as-a-service, each and every one of us can get benchmarked every day by outside service providers. If our business doesn't like the applications [you] have put in place, they have an opportunity to go and buy from someone else.
"How many companies do we know that have perpetual licence CRM solutions and someone's gone out and bought Salesforce.com in the company? How many of us have seen the purchase of Amazon AWS show up on credit cards because they don't like the platform that we [the department] is providing?"
He said CIOs can look at this trend where users have the power to purchase their own services if they are dissatisfied with systems delivered by the IT department as a negative or they can embrace the change.
"It's the most important time to embrace these types of changes, because at the end of the day, the role of the CIO is going to change whether we like it or not.
"Turn yourself into more of a broker, making conscious decisions about what stays behind the firewall and what doesn't stay behind the firewall," he said.
"Wake up every day and think of 'what am I doing that is driving value? How am I helping my CEO grow our business?' What it comes down to is leadership. Ask yourself the question: Am I going to drive this change or am I going to be driven by it?'" he said.
Byron Connolly travelled to Las Vegas as a guest of CA Technologies.