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I recently met up with Dave Aron a Gartner Fellow in the CIO research group, to talk about the future role of the CIO. Aron believes CIOs need to rethink what the role of IT should be in their organisations. It is no longer sufficient to deliver on service levels. The sexy bits of IT, like mobile apps, are being given to other areas of the business.
Services levels must be maintained, but Aron is seeing top-level CIOs engage in business transformation and innovations. For instance, Swedish ball-bearings manufacturer SKF has taken a commodity business and turned into a company that sells guaranteed uptime on heavy machinery. It is now a knowledge company, he says – combining ball-bearings, sensors with know-how to help its customers keep machines running by reducing wear.
Similarly, the business model behind Zipcar, the pay-per-use car rental firm, can only work thanks to smart use of IT.
So to be invited to the top ideas table, and avoid being relegated to the back office side of the business, Aron has a number of recommendations for CIOs:
- Do not call anything an IT project
- Avoid calling other areas of the business “customers”
- Segment IT into core transactional systems (that do not add value), systems that differentiate the business and innovation and prioritise those that deliver an ROI
- Allocate time to influencing the business
- Free up maintenance budget using “creative destruction” to support innovation