Useless is a harsh word, but Peter Hinssen, CEO of Across and Senior Industry Fellow at UC Irvine’s School of Business believes it may apply to modern IT departments. Furthermore, Hinssen suggests that many people in the business community see CIOs a figurehead and not much else. This could explain why many IT departments seem to be lacking the force they once had. In short, according to Hinssen, “CIOs have lost the edge:”
The tension between ‘business’ and IT has been around forever, but instead of getting better, it has gotten worse in the last couple of years. The reason is that digital has become ‘normality’, and almost everyone now feels at ease with digital technology. In other words, the natural knowledge advantage of the IT department has eroded. To put it bluntly, since everyone and their dog started carrying around iPads, the IT department really lost their advantage on the ‘frontier of technology.’ I think the CIO is greatly to blame for this. In many companies the CIOs never fulfilled their roles as such and rather persisted in performing the more comfortable job of Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
The declining role of the CIO seems to be leading to an increase in the role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Instead of implementing technology as a CIO would, a CDO, according to Hinssen, implements innovation that is enabled by technology. However, many people don’t know the difference between the two, and this of course leads to confusion.
Hinssen goes on to say that many CIOs desire to be CDOs, but they are must be concerned with their level of credibility. Furthermore, concerning age and experience, they must decide if they are the superhero or the sidekick for their organization. Either way, it seems roles are shifting at all levels throughout the IT world.