New Role for the CIO: Chief Process Officer?

New Role for the CIO: Chief Process Officer?

I hear a lot of conversations these days about whether the "I" in CIO still means "information" or if it really stands for some other "I" word. Innovation? Integration? Intelligence? While those are always entertaining discussions to have, I'm thinking about a different letter entirely: Who is the CPO at your organization? The "P" doesn't stand for procurement or privacy, but for policy or process.

As I talk with CIOs about where their businesses are heading and what they are doing to get there faster, we often end up discussing their investments in consumer-based or emerging technologies. Then the focus inevitably moves to policy and process. "If I am going to enable and promote [bring your own device]," one CIO told me, "I need to have a policy and process in place that employees must follow to ensure we are safe, secure and compliant." I hear virtually the same comments about cloud and social, too.

So who steps up to be the CPO in your organization? Who sets up these new policies and processes and then follows through to monitor and enforce them? Is it the legal department, or the chiefs of security, operations or finance? It certainly isn't the CMO. (Despite all the great press marketing execs are getting lately about their IT spending, I don't believe the "P" words are keeping them up at night.)

Seems to me this is one of those boring-but-important areas that could benefit from greater collaboration among the various stakeholders, including (wait for it...) IT vendors. That's right. As your technology suppliers are busy promoting new ways of doing business--and reveling in the creation of disruptive technologies--shouldn't they be sharing some of their own expertise and taking a proactive role in helping CIOs create and deploy policies and processes?

I'm all for fostering change and innovation within the enterprise, and the adoption of new technologies often leads to new ways of working together. But all that must be tempered with some respect for the standards and practices that made that organization a success in the first place.

What I hear expressed by many CIOs today is the feeling that the CPO role falls increasingly--and heavily--on their shoulders. Yet it really should be a collaborative effort that extends to the vendor community. Could such a partnership work? Would you welcome it?

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