The fall and fall of the CIO


David Griffiths

August 26, 2015

         There has been much written recently about the rise of the Chief Digital / Data Officer or CDO, about how Chief Marketing Officers’ are leading the drive to digital and about what the role of the traditional Chief Information Officer is in this new world.  I think the answer is quite simple.  They don’t have one.
The traditional paradigm of an IT or IS department segregated into applications and infrastructure areas is increasingly irrelevant.  This has been apparent for some years but most CIOs have chosen to ignore it, preferring instead a low risk high cost model.
This change can no longer be ignored.  As back-end IT is increasingly commoditised and delivered as a utility, as employees increasingly use mobile devices and ubiquitous network access the requirement for the CIO’s huge and costly apparatus diminishes.  DevOps and continuous delivery are similarly rendering the old structures obsolete.
There are of course exceptions, for instance where regulatory or security requirements demand particular features that are not easily delivered by new world IT.  Even here, for many organisations this will be a small and reducing part of their environment.
Requirements for a centralised function persist; directory services and the configuration management system are good examples.  These provide a single source of reliable data upon which all other services depend. But soon these services too will be commoditised.
The nimble digital mammals will steal the food from the lumbering CIO dinosaurs.  They will become extinct, their failure to evolve leading them inexorably to extinction.
But hey, they’ve had a good run.

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