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Implications for CIOs

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 11-06-2007 Print

Implications for CIOs

With this change in the structure of IT organizations come new skill sets and responsibilities for CIOs. Brennen, who's constantly speaking with businesses about what they want in their next CIO, sees the role morphing from the traditional tech-savvy manager to more of a business operative. The CIO of the future "is a general manager," he says. "He's an integrator of best of breed from multiple suppliers. He's also a great negotiator."

Drewry has seen more of her time shift to managing alliances and partnerships related to outsourced work. It hasn't been easy, she says, for her or for her peers in different industries.

But the emergence of transformative technologies and techniques, such as service-oriented architecture, which encompass a broader chunk of the IT infrastructure than a simple, standalone application, has created change.

"Things are much more flexible and configurable with these new tools and technology--it's a lot easier to take it and adapt it without having to rewrite it or bastardize it," she says. "I truly can configure it to meet my need, and change it on the fly as I learn that maybe my need wasn't the best need."

Drewry and Willett, both IT management veterans-- Drewry worked at various financial services firms, Willett headed Accenture's global retail practice-- embody what CIOs in the hollowed model will look like. IT executives who focus more on technology than business will be a thing of the past. "IT managers who still see themselves as IT managers in five years won't be managers anymore," says Gartner's Gerrard. One trend already in play is companies appointing business executives with little technology experience to CIO posts. Those companies want to make sure their IT chiefs will naturally align themselves with the business--no prodding necessary. "If you don't meet that description, the business will not make the investment needed to align you with them," says Gerrard.

Beyond becoming more business-savvy in general, CIOs must adopt the characteristics of business executives. One such quality: IT heads have to be strong negotiators, because they're being relied on to strike favorable deals with outsourcers and ensure that business needs are met.

This forces the CIO to create a culture of collaboration between internal staff and outside vendor teams. Building that trust, Willett says, isn't easy. In that kind of client-service situation, many internal staffers will be quick to point fingers at the service provider for anything that goes wrong. "Beware of the blame culture," he warns, "where everyone wants to blame the third party because that's the easiest thing to do."


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