Future CIO: Alliances and capabilities

If you were to design your organisation today with a blank piece of paper and no inheritance, would you include an IT department on your plans? Come to think of it, would you include an HR department, a finance team or any other of the support silos that act as the foundation of many of our large organisations?

The idea of multidisciplinary teams as a better route to successful outcomes is one that is seen in many fields; at the core of many agile approaches is the concept of bringing together groups of people who in other techniques might be divided by silo; in healthcare it’s a very specific approach used to improve health outcomes; in new product development it’s increasingly a tactic used to bring products and services to market more effectively.

What if we were to think about technology management as a set of capabilities that could be set alongside others to provide the means for an organisation to just “work”?

In some ways the reverse is happening; as software as a service reduces the need for heavy use of technology infrastructure at the core, operational management of finance or HR systems is increasingly being pushed into those areas. This results in something of a paradox: the need for technology management groups to require both a hard set of skills in relatively esoteric technologies to effective manage the integration of services across the enterprise, whilst also requiring much stronger soft skills to maintain influence and trust across an organization that owns its own systems.

With whom should the CIO look to form alliances to help shape out their future role? Beyond the paymasters in their own organisation, and professional bodies and suppliers in the technology sector, should IT be looking to the other supporting professions of finance, HR, legal and communications to help define a collective future?

And what do the capabilities of technology management look like in the future? What are the hard skills of analysis, delivery and design that are fit for purpose in the next decade? And are there currently deficiencies? Do the analytic and problem solving approaches of software engineering need to be married with softer skills of empathy, influence and trust-building?

As the management of technology becomes increasingly dispersed across and between organisations, being able to manage that organizational and technical complexity will require an adapting  mix of skills and approaches. Is the world of the CIO ready?

This short series of blog articles are the beginning of a debate that Matt is going to be facilitating at an event at BCS London on May 11th. If you are interested in taking part, you can register for a place.

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