CIOS: Change or Face Being Phased Out

Businessmen Reviewing DocumentThe relationship between the business and information technology worlds has changed significantly in recent years, and these fields are becoming increasingly intertwined as time passes. With companies implementing sophisticated innovations in an expanding array of areas throughout their operations, organizations are becoming more dependent on tech, which means that professionals in all departments have to adjust accordingly.

While representatives in certain sections of businesses have to catch up on IT jargon and practices, tech staff members have to familiarize themselves with other areas of expertise. This includes chief information officers, who may find that they have to collaborate with different departments, requiring them to expand their knowledge base and figure out how to leverage solutions and revolutionize the manner in which various divisions operate. To realize this objective, CIOs should be ready for their roles to change, exposing themselves to numerous business disciplines and building a comprehensive list of credentials.

CIO roles could be made irrelevant
In recent years, tech executives may have been feeling the pressure to brush up on their business skills at the risk of being replaced. While professionals are likely valuable due to their IT experience alone, companies have been expecting more from these employees, urging these representatives to build a solid foundation of additional competencies that would pertain to different areas of their enterprises. Because technology has made its way into mainstream society, staff members of all sorts now boast IT skills, which means that they could use some tools all on their own – without the help of CIOs. For this reason, tech executives have to make adjustments to their repertoires, incorporate new faculties and prevent their jobs from becoming irrelevant.

A prime example of a prominent company phasing out the CIO role can be see with Vodafone Australia’s decision to forgo replacing its former IT executive Andrew Wiles. According to ZDNet, Wiles left this corporation after assuming head position of its tech team in 2012. In light of his departure, the business decided to mix things up and opt out of finding a new CIO. Instead, the company has chosen to pass Wiles’ responsibilities on to its remaining staff members, eliminating this executive role altogether.

The source explained that Wiles proved critical to the corporation’s reorganization during his brief tenure. He successfully integrated numerous brands that this company owned – Crazy John’s, 3 and Vodafone – into a consolidated infrastructure. Additionally, this former CIO united various data centers so that all information was accessible via a single platform.

Despite these accomplishments, Vodafone maintains that its operations can run without a designated IT officer, reallocating this position’s duties to other representatives within its tech department. This notable corporation is not the only one to use this strategy, and more companies are expected to follow suit.

Tech execs should show value
Given this potential trend, IT executives would be wise to show that they are still crucial to their companies by making adjustments to the skills and expertise that they could offer their businesses. CIO magazine spoke with Michael Keithley, CIO at Creative Artists Agency, about the predicament tech officers face, and the expert provided a possible solution. One of the fields in which they can become more business-savvy, and therefore prove their value, is with data security contracts.

“Certainly one of the biggest areas where CIOs can provide value and leadership is in contract negotiations, especially with SaaS vendors,” Keithley told the source. “If you’re a CMO or line-of-business manager, you’re thinking very tactically about the problem you’re trying to solve. But the reality is that none of the historical things around data integrity, security and compliance, creating silos and master data – all the things that IT is really good at – are still there.”

“I think CIOs can be that coach, that mentor and lead in this area,” Keithley added.

On top of this, Keithley advised that IT executives immerse themselves in the business world, fully comprehending the problems that different departments face and knowing how to discuss solutions in terms that other representatives will understand. This way, CIOs can demonstrate that they know the hurdles the rest of their businesses are trying to surpass, show that they are on the same page and provide viable resolutions that depend on these CIOs’ tech expertise to be carried out in an effective fashion.

Marie Larsen
Marie is a writer for CIOs.com. She has an educational background in languages and literature. She covers IT trends and executive technology management topics for the company.