Are you appreciating the cloud’s potential silver lining?

If you have been a CIO for more than four years then maybe you should start looking for a new job! Surveys reveal that the average tenure of a CIO is five years according to Frank Petersmark, CIO of Amerisure Mutual Insurance who states: “The first year as CIO is the honeymoon.

The second year is about strategy and planning, and the third year is about implementing. In the fourth year they (the higher-ups) figure out that the execution isn’t going that well, and in the fifth year, you start looking for your next job.”

If you think that’s depressing then turn away now because according to a Gartner survey of 1,527 CIOs, their average tenure in 2009 was four years and four months, a figure that has changed relatively little over the past several years, according to Mark McDonald, group vice president of Gartner Executive Programs. “It’s been between four years and three months and four years and nine months,” he says.

This is backed up by an annual Society for Information Management survey of SIM members and of companies in Europe and Asia paints a similar picture, with the average tenure lengthening from “3.6 years in a 2006 SIM study to 5.1 years today. The median tenure is between four and five years, with 57% of respondents reporting that their companies’ top IT executives had been in their jobs four years or less.”

So why the short shelf life ?

“There are many reasons CIOs leave their jobs,” McDonald notes. “One fairly reasonable one is retirement. For many people, CIO is their apex job. That might account for about 25% of departing CIOs. Another third of them choose to get a job elsewhere, and probably a third lose their job, most often because of a change in leadership at the top of the organization, or else because of a failed project. The remainder move on to some other role within the organization, on the business side or in some other area.”

Cloud Computing’s Central Role

But there might be good news on the horizon – even after the difficulties suffered by Amazon’s EC2 in April – from The Cloud.

Another study from CA Technologies reveals that cloud computing is enabling a more central role for IT in shaping business strategy and driving innovation. The vast majority of survey respondents (96 percent) believes the primary role of IT has changed over the past five years, and 71 percent expect that trend to continue over the next two years.

The study conducted by IDG Research Services on behalf of CA Technologies quizzed 200 IT managers in the U.S. and Europe.

More than half (54 percent) of the respondents acknowledge the current value of IT is largely defined by its role as owner and operator of IT infrastructure; however, respondents believe within two years, the primary value of IT will come from managing the IT supply chain. Fifty percent of those surveyed indicate that an increase in cloud-based services, particularly those that were formerly managed in-house, has contributed to this evolution.

“As the IT organization transitions from an owner and operator of IT infrastructure to a manager of more complex, multi-platform internal and external services, CIOs are tasked with redefining the value of IT to the business,” said Adam Famularo, general manager, Cloud Computing business, CA Technologies. “This shift represents exciting new opportunities for IT professionals to expand their skill sets and become more strategic advisors to the business.”

So if your thinking about The Cloud to date has been a little foggy maybe you should be looking at it in a different light and appreciating the potential silver lining!

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.