ZDNet – The new CIO mandate

Keeping up with the relentless pace of technology advancement has become one of the top challenges for organizations as they seek to modernize and adapt to today’s digital marketplaces. Perhaps foremost on the hot seat these days is the Chief Information Officer (CIO). That IT leadership role has been under growing tension between two implacable forces: 1) applying the latest technology innovations to the business and 2) maintaining infrastructure and keeping existing IT systems running smoothly.

The argument has long been made that the top technology leader in most enterprises has a fundamental conflict between keeping the lights on and pushing the business towards more comprehensive digital transformation. The lines of business in most enterprises, for their part, seem less and less content to wait for the CIO to take a more proactive role.

In fact, these days it’s often regional departments and far-flung divisions that are shifting companies into fast-moving and vital areas like market-facing mobile applications, cross-channel CRM, digital marketing, open APIs, online communities, and other high-visibility emerging business technologies. CIOs seem content to take on areas closer to their core competencies in large, centralized systems such as big data, ERP upgrades, and cloud/virtualization.

The data tells a similar story, with a new Forrester study noting that in a major demographic shift, a minority of IT projects will be led by the IT department for the average firm for the first time in history by next year.

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