The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) will change fundamentally in the next few years, according to research commissioned by Brocade. The research asked 100 CIOs from across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) about their roles, and revealed that the uptake of the cloud, and the democratisation of IT away from the IT departments’ control, is driving an evolution of their role towards consultancy and mediation.
However, only by ensuring the right infrastructure is in place, will CIOs be free to adopt more strategic responsibilities, evolve into an operational position and ensure their long-term survival.
Almost half of CIOs questioned expect the evolution towards cloud adoption and the increase in business units owning their own IT procurement processes to mean that they will spend far less time worrying about the nuts and bolts of IT infrastructure.
However, three quarters are concerned that Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will not meet minimum requirements, and over half worry they will be unable to predict data volumes and bandwidth requirements and therefore be unable to manage the network effectively. Both issues could lead to significant levels of downtime and slow application response levels, impacting productivity and risking both regulatory non-compliance and loss of business, while increasing IT costs.
Only 20 percent of those surveyed saw the role of CIO – as typically defined today – eventually becoming obsolete, and not within the next 10 years. Rather, the respondents believe the role will evolve to cover a broader business range with a third stating they see themselves continuing along a path towards becoming more involved in strategic discussions.
CIOs believe that these concerns around the operational impact of outsourcing IT services will lead to the merging of the CIO and the Chief Operations Officer (COO) roles, as the corporate network becomes increasingly business-critical in nature.
Alberto Soto, Vice President of EMEA at Brocade explained: “To access applications, information and communications systems, the network is not just another ‘device’ in the same way as a tablet, laptop or smartphone – it is the enabler of all business communications, activities and transactions. If that network is not managed and developed appropriately, the consequences can be significant and financially damaging. The role of the CIO in ensuring access to applications and services will become increasingly operationally critical, strategic and central to an organisation’s growth.”
More than a third surveyed confirmed that cloud services had been deployed by business units in their organisations without the involvement of IT, and two thirds see business units procuring cloud resources by themselves much more by 2020.
While the cloud is mainly used by the IT department itself and not by the business functions, half of the CIOs questioned cited an inability to manage the corporate network effectively, due to being unable to predict data volumes and bandwidth requirements, as a key concern where the cloud was adopted without IT department engagement. Additionally, more than two thirds cited SLAs that may not meet basic requirements as an issue in cloud services adoption.
As a result, the CIO role will evolve and policy enforcement, technology evangelism and mediation between business units and their services providers will become the key responsibilities for the CIO by 2020, according to those questioned. And rather than being replaced by the CFO in this shift in IT provisioning, two thirds of respondents predicted that the roles of COO and CIO will merge as technology continues to become more operationally vital.
Policy development and enforcement will become an increasingly pressing element of risk management and regulatory adherence related to the security and management of device access in the face of increasing adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobility. Few CIOs saw this trend representing the death of the office, but rather leading to increased hot-desking and a need for investment in campus networks, to ensure access to vital services whether owned or third-party provided.
At the same time, the ability to provide consultancy and advice on extracting information from increasingly fragmented data sources across owned and third-party IT resources will grow in importance; more than half of CIOs admitted that getting strategic information from data held across multiple servers or sites was already a significant problem for their businesses as they evolve into more virtual enterprises.
“This study has flagged some critical concerns around network deployment in modern business, and the strategic importance of the evolving role of the CIO. The CIO will remain strategic to the business, but will assume a myriad of new responsibilities as network usage evolves in the coming years. CIOs need to therefore work closely with infrastructure partners to identify the best tools to help their businesses flourish,” added Soto.