Future-proof CIO

By Stijn Viaene, professor of Management Information Systems

  • Professor at KULeuven and Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
  • Partner at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
  • Deloitte Research Chair Bringing IT to Board Level

A view of the future. Imagine the CIO 30 years from now. Will there be a CIO, for that matter? Given the progressive integration of IT into the very fabric of enterprises, you might want to raise that question. Maybe a fellow executive in supply chain or customer care will have taken over. The use of technology is what matters, not the way you operate it.

In 30 years, most of the IT stuff as we now know it will be outsourced to partners in an extended value net. What is kept inside your organisation will be those capabilities that make your organisation ‘ambient’. Resources, activities, business processes, knowledge – all will be reconceived as services ready to walk around and engage the world. My services will meet your services and we’ll dance the samba! Enterprises will be reborn as permeable ecosystems of such services offered to ‘co-opeting’ customer ecosystems. A (if not the) crucial strategic capability will be the governance of interactions in this constellation of ecosystems. However, rather than having a single authority imposing a form of organisation and decision-making, the latter will be an emergent property of the business ecosystem.

Back to the present. Does your current chief in command of IT fit into this picture? Aside from assessing his (or her) leadership traits, I urge you to have a look at how he runs shop. You might want to use the following basic set of questions to get a clear picture:

  1. Is he embracing cloud computing?
  2. Does he have the capability to deliver information and applications as easily deployable services?
  3. Is mobility at the top of his agenda?
  4. Are his decisions driven by the need to optimise both IT effectiveness and business effectiveness?

Of course, these questions do not deliver a full audit, let alone uncover problem root causes. Still, if you get “no” or “don’t know” answers, raise the red flags.

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