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IT decision makers and technology leaders were speaking at the Cloud World Forum in London on Tuesday

IT decision makers and technology leaders were speaking at the Cloud World Forum in London

As cloud services increasingly make their way into organisations the role of the CIO will likely become centred on compliance and service brokerage, if it continues to be relevant at all, according to a number of senior UK IT decision makers.

“The traditional role of the CIO today doesn’t innovate,” said Derek Cockerton, director of converged cloud, HP, speaking at the Cloud World Forum in London today. “The traditional CIO is simply too busy fighting fires,” he said, adding that the role of the CIO is undergoing a major transformation – and may even cease to exist.

A number of enterprise IT decision makers and technology leaders discussed the role of the CIO as it is today and how they believe the role will evolve as their organisations lean on an increasing number of cloud-based services.

Consensus seemed to have formed around the notion that, as these organisations get out of the business of buying hardware and software and move towards consuming and subscribing to services, the role of the CIO will move towards one focused on IT service management, and fostering an IT department and strategy that puts security and compliance at its core.

“From CIO to chief compliance officer is what’s happening. The role will become about how you ensure your IT systems are complying with the rules applying in the country your businesses is in,” said Martin Bishop, global head of network applications and & service portfolio at Telstra Global.

“Compliance and security or procuring delivered services could even become a subset of the sales or go to market organisations,” he said, suggesting that the role of IT’s role could be limited to an initial security management and qualification.

But some technology and IT heads suggested the role, like any corporate role, will evolve along with the new challenges and opportunities brought about by technological shifts impacting them.

Jagdeep Singh, UK Government head of technology said that the role of the CTO and the CIO will begin to combine into a kind of hybrid function as emphasis shifts to service brokerage and technical integration.

“We’re all in agreement that the role of the CIO needs to evolve but in central government there’s a tendency towards the CTO role moving slightly ahead of the CIO. But they will need to work together to facilitate integration,” Singh said.

“From a name of the role perspective it’s less relevant, but the role of that function will only get more important in terms of facilitating the innovation it drives,” he said.

There are still a lot of legacy systems where the bulk of the organisation’s data resides, which means the role will likely continue to be focused on balancing systems modernisation with legacy integration, he explained.

The shift to cloud will also bring new infrastructure and cost-management challenges of the fore. “Cloud is still very much evolving. It has simplified some things, taken things off my plate and put them in the hands of the business, but I’m still here to manage infrastructure as a service and the new challenges that brings along with it,” said Graham Hobson, CTO of Photobox.

“You’ve got to be aware of the different models: private, public, hybrid, and understand what your teams internally need. CIO’s need to learn their craft and how to optimise for that,” he added.

  • Patricia Anderson June 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    So true Jonathan, thanks for your insight! As cloud has transformed the way we all do business, I agree that a number of new, top-line goals have emerged for CIOs. CIOs are now using their tools, technology and knowledge to help their companies find new markets, speed their organizations’ time to market with new products and services and create new business models. As CIOs become more focused on leveraging technology to generate enhanced business outcomes, the traditional title of Chief Information Officer may well become Chief Innovation Officer. Everywhere, we’re seeing that the CIO is now becoming an essential part of the product offered by the organization, and it’s all because of cloud.

    To hear more on this point of view, listen in as two industry leaders discuss how cloud is transforming the role of the CIO. Go to Driving Innovation and Agility with Cloud at

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