CIOs need to 'relinquish their control of technology'

CIOs will need to take a hands-off approach to IT as the speed of digital technology gathers pace, says Ovum analyst

Chief information officers will need to relinquish their control of IT as digitisation gathers pace in businesses over the next five years.

The role of the CIO will shift from being a controller and implementer of IT, to being a technology advisor to the rest of business, according to Ovum chief analyst Tim Jennings.

“CIOs need to be more pragmatic about the control points for IT. The IT department can’t have that monopoly around how technology is used in the business. IT has to be more of an advisor,” he said in an interview with Computer Weekly.

Digital technology has reached the point where it is impacting every aspect of business, from human resources, to sales and finance, Jennings said, and its take-up is accelerating.

CIO as business advisor

As a result, CIOs will have to work in a more collaborative way with other parts of the business, rather than assuming they will take the lead on every IT project.

“It does not diminish the role of the CIO – in many ways the CIO should welcome it,” said Jennings.

He sees CIOs increasingly taking responsibility for driving digital innovation in their organisations, and potentially assuming a much higher-profile role throughout the business.

But they will need to start preparing for the transition now by encouraging other parts of the business to take a more proactive role in IT.

“It is about saying this is not solely my domain and we should be having a joint conversation on how we can best manage technology for the business," said Jennings.

CIOs, he said, should proactively demonstrate their thought leadership by writing a blog, or producing whitepapers on the potential of digital technology for the business.

“Go to your chief marketing officer and say let's have a discussion about what we can do with social media analytics, and how I can help you,” he said.

CIOs need to be more pragmatic about the control points for IT

Tim Jennings, chief analyst, Ovum

But CIOs will need to ensure they have a strong team behind them to manage the day-to-day running of IT if they are take more of an advisory role, said Jennings.

“We are now in a major transition phase. It’s the change from opportunities for technology-led transformation, to systematic use of digital technology across the business,” he said.

Tim Jennings is speaking at the Ovum Industry Congress this week.

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