Has the sun finally set for the traditional
CIO as we see him or her? Well the short answer is maybe.
All you have to do is
look back 10 years and you’ll find that the role has basically transformed, so
it is not so hard to believe that it will do so again. With the onset of the
Digital Age, we should really try to bring the CIO up to date.
Is it reasonable to consider the CIO in
terms of a service rather that a person? Why not considering the CIO has been
doing his/her utmost to translate everyone else’s job into a generic role and
in turn to a generic set of services/components. The emergence of the
service-based ICT organisation, together with the adoption of outsourcing and
cloud, has facilitated this in the form of ‘ICT as a Service’.
So why not start by breaking down the
The next question is: can these services be
delivered as a virtual service or set of services?
Established frameworks such as TOGAF,
P3M3/Prince2, ISO/IEC, COBIT and ITIL/ITSM offer guidelines to codify Strategic
Planning, Program Management, Risk Management, Governance and Technology
Organisation Design and Development are largely experiential with
models and frameworks widely available. Stakeholder Management can also be
imported as this is based around relationship management although the level of
intimacy might be difficult to emulate.
It is also true that many CIOs already
import many of these skills through the engagement of consultancies. This
demonstrates that virtual capabilities may already be in place at an additional
cost to the organisation. This is to some extent understandable as the CIO role
has expanded exponentially over recent times.
It is worth considering what the potential
constraints to setting up a virtual CIO arrangement are?
is that the cost of not having a full time CIO can be more than offset with
having a Virtual Substitute for 50% of their time.
- Loss of business intimacy
Whilst this is
probably the hardest to replace, having best in class Strategic Planning and
Architecture frameworks in place will enable the essence of the business to be
- Loss of accessibility (i.e. to
strategic ICT advice) This facility
can be available ‘on tap’ with the added advantage of having multiple CIO substitutes
available to consult.
- Loss of capability
As above, expect
to extend capability by assembling the combined expertise of 3 or 4 Virtual
There might be other constraints but these
are most likely to be the most significant. In summary, the Virtual CIO service
offers the potential advantage of being more cost effective, equally business intimate and
substantially more accessible and capable.
To really step up to the Digital Age, it
seems that the next logical step is to create the Digital CIO. This would
require the ‘CIO as an Avatar’ to be created before teleporting him/her/it into
the stratosphere – an area 10km to 50km above the Earth’s surface that has
Welsh - Associate Partner, Information Professionals
has over 35 years’ experience as an ICT professional including 15 years in
Chief Information Officer (CIO) roles. His particular skills include ICT and
business strategic planning, program management, business and ICT alignment,
stakeholder management. He is particularly valuable for organisations seeking
to get more out of their ICT investments and/or to use ICT to transform their
organisation. He has extensive experience in the management and design of ICT
Labels: "Information Professionals", C Suite, Change Management, CMO, co design, organisation design, program management, risk management, stakeholder management, strategic planning, technology leadership, Tony Welsh