Organise your team on the dotcom model

John Riley

The organisation of IT in dotcom companies is the future model of the IT management team, according to a leading IT...

John Riley

The organisation of IT in dotcom companies is the future model of the IT management team, according to a leading IT expert.

Within five years the job of chief information officer (CIO) will be split into two, said Michael Earl, London Business School professor of Information Management, addressing the forum.

The chief executive and the board will take on the business and IS strategy functions of the CIO job, while responsibility for technical policy, service delivery and infrastructure will be concentrated in a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), he said.

Take a look at the dotcom companies if you want to see how IT management will be organised in the future, Earl said. "They want CTOs to build and run a scalable infrastructure - the founder is already a CIO," he said.

Headhunter Sophie Houstoun-Boswall of CalibreOne. com agreed, "Before we were asked for IT directors. Now we tend to be asked for CTOs for dotcoms and for CIOs for corporates."

But the UK's IT directors may be reluctant to change their status, she said.

"I was surprised at how many [IT Directors' Forum] delegates don't want to be CTOs," she said. "Nearly all want to be a CIO or keep the role of IT director as it is. From a recruitment perspective it explains why it is so hard to find good CTOs," she added.

Earl says the new-style CIO needs to be:

  • a change master

  • a strategist

  • a technology policy maker

  • ability to network outside the office

  • e-fluent, thinking far beyond current innovations such as Wap phones.

    The best route to becoming a new-style CIO, he said, is to be a senior executive outside IT or to have run a business or business unit and have experience in IT.

    Above all, Earl concluded, a CIO "must be trusted in terms of having the interests of the business at heart".

    The changing role of the CIO

    From typical job descriptions  
    1998: To keep the network running, costs down and the show on the road in the run-up to Y2K
    1999: To be good at strategy for new technology, understand e-commerce
      and help the company make the transition to the new economy
    2000: A CIO or a CTO who can build a robust and scalable IT infrastructure and
      who can help us in our continuous programme of innovation
      enabled by information and new technology

    Where CIOs spend their time

      Inside IT Dept Outside IT Dept Outside Company
    Now 52% 34% 14%
    5 years time 44% 39% 17%

    Source: Prof Michael Earl, London Business School

    The labels IT directors will use

    Most prevalent term in 2001  
    IT director 45%
    CIO 36%
    CKO 7%
    CTO 9%
    Other 3%

    Source: survey of IT directors at ITDF

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