Disruption starts with me: changing role of the CIO

A long time ago, there was The Controller CIO role – chief of the technology domain. The job was simple – round up the people, processes and assets that looked or felt like IT. With fiefdoms of corporate IT across the business, reliability and interoperability was suffering and there was no-one to hold accountable for things working. The Controller role seemed to work and there were those well qualified in engineering and IT to step into the fray. This whole exercise also shone a light on the cost of IT; both in capital and expense. The job got done more or less, things felt safer, more reliable and hey presto, costs were now in one spot. And what do we get for this spend exactly they asked…?

Years went by and IT was been seen as enabling. Depending on the industry, IT had the ability to not just automate business process and reduce costs but in many cases provide better business outcomes – better margins and many happier customers. The role of the Business Partner CIO was born. New skills were required that were less technical, more commercial and increasingly focused on communication and stakeholder management. This new CIO role needed to ‘buddy up’ with business unit heads to help marry up requirements with IT solutions.The business unit head had to lead this process as it was their business. Words like ‘alignment’, ‘engagement’ and ‘partnering’ were a wash.

In the last couple of years, the exponential nature of IT has been really felt. No process or industry is being spared. Demand for IT leadership skills is outstripping supply, the pace of change is too fast and there are more solutions and options than ever before. IT is becoming critical to not just growth but survival. A new breed of cat is needed (having hardly dusted off the last). Enter the role of The Disruptor CIO – a true digital leader that’s in control of IT but can inject anything from ‘cloud’, ‘mobile’, ‘machine learning’, ‘robotics’ and ‘big data’ to change the game. There is far less partnering going on and much more direct leadership. To explain this, just ask the average business unit head how and where they might apply ‘machine learning’. The Disruptor is not just innovating but actually driving changes in business models from the grass roots. It is an even more strategic, commercial and visionary role whose entire remit is change (quickly) and most likely not in the back office (that’s table stakes). If the world outside is moving faster than inside, the end is near and they are not in the role.

Ant Stevens, KPMG’s Chief Information Officer, has been selected as one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders for 2015, one of only two Australians in the list of the best and brightest IT leaders in the world.
Now in its 16th year, the prestigious awards program honours individuals who have had a positive impact on their organisation through technology.
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4 thoughts on “Disruption starts with me: changing role of the CIO

    1. Well said Kyle, I don‘t like this buzz term disruptive – it has negative connotations when you are quite correct, IT should partner with the business to enable it to achieve its goals. IT is not the business, it shouldn‘t disrupt, it should support and enable.

  1. Nice thoughts but the fact is that the Australian market still does not understand the need for IT from a strategic perspective i.e. a real CIO

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