CIOs must adopt business skills or face extinction by tech-savvy business managers, delegates at the 360IT infrastructure event at Earl's Court heard today.
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During a keynote speech at the event, Peter Birley, director of IT and business operations at Browne Jacobson LLP, said: "The CIO must move from a tech-centric to a business-centric approach."
Birley questioned if future CIOs would originate from an IT background and said IT leaders will lose out to tech-savvy managers of business functions. "The role of the CIO is evolving and business alignment remains a top issue. The CIO is an endangered species unless they do something about it," he said.
The role of the CIO will be less about managing an IT department and more about greater integration with business. "There is growing conservatism over protecting budgets rather than fulfilling business innovation," said Birley.
Adam Thilthorpe, director for professionalism at BCS, said CIOs need to use the language of business. Thilthorpe also discussed lack of a CIO presence on many organisations' top table.
"There's an idea of a glass ceiling, where the CIO never makes it to the board. It has a detrimental effect," he said.
Lee Bryant, founder of consultancy Headshift, agreed. He said: "If IT managers as providers of IT services can cover the basics, there is space for the CIO, not CTO, to work with business to make the most of business information. For the future of competitiveness, the focus is on the 'I' not the 'T'."
"The [title] CIO suggests a role about information. But traditional CIOs have done lots to prevent the free flow of information around organisations. The rise of social technology is swinging the pendulum back to supporting people rather than processes," he said.