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How cloud can change the enterprise CIO’s role in three steps

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

The role of the CIO changes each decade. Back in the 1960s and 70s they were barely known within the organization. In those days, whatever computerization existed within enterprises was rare and expensive, and typically run by the CFO. Then the 1980s came along and we saw the rise of a new strategic role within enterprises, that of the CIO.

August 30, 2018

CIOs now have responsibility for the computer systems, networks, data centers, and all supporting human resources. However, what those resources are and what those humans do has changed a great deal in the last 30 years. Contributing factors include the rise of the PC in 1980s and 90s, the arrival of the Internet, and now the rise of cloud computing.

Most CIOs are disinclined to run after a new technology when it shows up on the market. However, it’s their responsibility to look at what’s new and what will provide the most value to the business. If a technology passes the appropriate Return On Investment bar, the CIO must adopt, leverage, and figure out a way to find benefits and value in state-of-the-art technology for their specific enterprise. Cloud computing, of course, is the latest technology.

So, how might cloud computing change the role of the CIO? That is, the CIOs who choose to adopt?

First, the CIOs will act more like brokers versus IT resources providers. Public cloud services, for instance, are valuable things for departments within the enterprises, and they look to the CIO to vet and provide those services. The CIO does not oversee the team that designs and builds the services, but brokers access to the cloud services.

This means the CIO will cut the deals with the cloud providers, set up automated brokering capabilities, and dole out the services as needed. Moreover, they will provide the usage-based accounting for show-backs and charge-backs, as well as security and governance services.

Second, CIOs must learn to manage complexity. One of the end states of this movement to public cloud, often multiple public clouds, is the need to deal with the complexity of managing thousands of cloud services along with the existing legacy systems.

CIOs must learn how to automate much of this activity. Without automation, they quickly will hit a tipping point that can cause failure or force them to automate in reaction to an impending failure. Neither of those options are good.

Third, CIOs must broker learning. Although most enterprises typically include an on-staff training team, the CIO must get involved in training requirements to implement effective change. This means looking for and implementing cloud provider certifications, as well as DevOps training, and other training for transformative technologies.

These are the three most obvious factors that can change and are changing CIO roles. Guess what? That changing nature is not yet over for the CIO. Other technologies will come down the road and different changes will need to occur. The best CIO is one who can roll with the punches.

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