Cloud Vs. CIO Battle: Where Is The Battle?

NASSCOM 2013 was buzzing with the topics of CIOs relevance in the current context of cloud and consumerisation of IT. I was on a panel discussing what keeps a new age CIO awake and alive. The discussion turned to questioning the relevance of CIO within 10 minutes of panel discussion kick off and stayed that way for the balance 50 minutes!

Consumerisation of IT fuelled by mobile device proliferation, app stores and apps now has received a further shot in its arm with cloud coming in. Cloud is fuelling a whole new business that will lead to consumerisation of enterprise IT Infrastructure, if you may please, with large players and eager start-ups jumping into the bandwagon. Almost all IT services being targeted by entrepreneurs will cover the entire gamut of services provided by the CIO / CTO to his organisation and more. Even before the advent of the cloud and consumerisation of IT caught traction, there were parts of the enterprises that started sourcing their own IT. Enterprise IT teams were caught either in implementation of core systems (ERP, CRM, etc) that were long gestation projects and completely energy sapping, that most of the frontline departments started sourcing their own IT.

Having said that, there is something about the cloud that has sparked off debates about the CIOs’ relevance. The cloud creates the ability to provision, de-provision and price services at a level of granularity that was not possible before. IaaS, PaaS and SaaS service providers will ride the cloud to drive cost down even for moderate to small scale of operations. CIOs have always been seen as people who were stuck with fixed costs in the face of declining business when the economy was under stress, and still is in certain parts of the world. Service providers ride on this aspect as they vend their cloud based wares.

Service providers will always end up selling solutions that solve a part of the puzzle. In complex environments (read SME and Large Enterprises) there is a need for a person who can source the right kind of services and stitch them together in a manner that makes sense for the enterprise, and in a manner that enables enterprises to derive and deliver value. Industry sectors that are regulated, cloud will take time and will need regulatory head winds to blow across those enterprises’ skyline to rain the promised benefits. I do not see the CIOs role diminishing, but the role needing skills that are way different from what CIOs are used to.

Unless CIOs fully understand the business of their enterprise, the context in which the business operates and impact of macro economic and eco-system changes on the business, their value to the enterprise will always be questioned. Unless this evolution happens, the CIOs will continue to compete with technology service providers and consultants, instead of their organisation's competitors. Cloud or no cloud, I feel the issue is what I just mentioned. The noise on CIO’s life expectancy either because of cloud or consumerisation of enterprise IT are just symptoms and not the real cause.

Updated Date: Feb 02, 2017 23:59:37 IST