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Ministry of Justice CDIO Tom Read claims CIO role will succumb to cloud

Speaking at Cloud Expo Europe, Ministry of Justice CDIO Tom Read says CIOs must be prepared to make their own roles redundant by embracing commodity cloud services and utility computing

CIOs should focus on making their own roles redundant within the next “five-to-10” years, as the move to cloud sees responsibility for sourcing IT services shift away from the IT department.

That’s according to Ministry of Justice Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO) Tom Read, who used the opening keynote of the Cloud Expo Europe conference in London to warn IT departments to stop wasting time on managing infrastructure when the public cloud giants can do it for them.

“Nobody really cares about infrastructure – it’s the backbone,” he said. “As much as possible, we need to stop talking about it and stop putting all our efforts into back-end infrastructure.”

“AWS [Amazon Web Services] is probably better at hosting than you. They have massive capacity, scalability, their business is based on being secure, so they’re probably better at hosting than you, so just let them do it.”

The MoJ has a “cloud-by-default” stance on sourcing new technology services, with the organisation using a mix of AWS and Microsoft Azure public cloud services, as well as Google’s G-Suite of cloud-based productivity services.

“We do cloud partly because we don’t want to focus on infrastructure,” he said. “We want to be focusing on adding value to users, and making it easier for people access justice. That’s the main reason,” he said.

“We have a bunch of systems that are still in on-premise datacentres, supported by a third-party… and it’s really difficult to be agile and iterate… if you’re doing server admin by email, which is why we’re [using cloud]. We think it’s just better. It’s more resilient and secure and efficient.”

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Using cloud means handing off responsibility for a lot of the heavy lifting IT departments are used to concerning themselves with. “The number of teams you need building software is getting smaller and smaller,” he said.

For example, IT departments used to think nothing of building their own CRM system or commissioning a bespoke piece of software to do the job, but now they can buy off-the-peg-type offerings from Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics to fulfil that function instead.

“Everything is becoming commodity and utility,” he said. “[CRM] is a commodity thing and that’s a really easy decision [to buy it in], and there’s not much of a role for the IT department in that.”

As an extension to that trend, CIOs need to make peace with the fact that job role many not exist within the next decade, Read added, as the need for enterprises to build their own applications, networks and datacentres will have passed.

“Aim to make your role redundant in five years. By your role, I mean the traditional CIO and traditional CDIO,” he said. “From a CIO perspective, I think that role just needs to disappear.”

Where the role of CDIO is concerned, they should not be looking to create or maintain a digital department within their organisation, but focus on embedding those skills throughout the entire enterprise.

“What we’re trying to do is build a core and then educate the rest of the team,” he said. “So, in a few years’ time, there will be lots of digital people everywhere. Teams will be digital – adjective – but there won’t be a digital department.”

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