Earlier this year Gartner, those prognosticators of all things IT, released a report detailing how Chief Marketing Officers would be spending more on IT by 2017 than CIOs. Naturally the IT press (and some mainstream press as well) used this as the opportunity to proclaim the end of the CIO role. What everyone forgot was that this was a projected occurrance due to happen sometime in the future if trends continue.
But trends never continue.
IT is in a continual state of transition. Cloud computing, SaaS, BYOD, and Software Defined Networking will continue to cause major changes in the coming years, but this is nothing new. IT has been continually evolving since it first came on the scene; that it would be changing now in the era of Big Data and social media should come as no surprise to anyone. And during this upheaval, the one we’re going to trust to keep on top of it all and make major decisions about the organization’s central nervous system is…..the marketing guy?
I can see CMOs being very interested in Business Intelligence and Big Data applications, but are they going to manage servers or outsourcing vendor relations for other departments? Are they going to spend time researching the latest technologies for signs of usefulness to the overall business? Will they accept responsibility for the company’s BYOD and mobility security issues?
Of course not. Nobody wants that kind of responsibility, that kind of risk. Nobody but the CIO, anyway.
In order to reverse their loosening grip on the organization’s digital assets, CIOs will have to deal with their bad PR. They have to deepen their understanding about their firms’ core business. They have be more proactively interested in the problems the various business units are trying solve. And much as they may not want to, they have to start answering the phone. A recent trend that CIOs seem to be blind to is that vendors have given up trying to reach them and are now calling on the heads of sales, heads of marketing, and other business leaders. And they’re getting through. Are you wondering why the VP of sales is now suddenly interested in Unified Communications and videoconferencing? Your VAR called him instead of you.
CIOs aren’t going anywhere. The role is going to change, naturally, but that has been a constant for the past 30 years. How it changes can be influenced by them and the moves they make in the next couple of years.