Changing Times for CIOs as staff get increasingly tech-savvy

Is this the end of traditional IT Departments and their CIOs? Look around you. Unless you are hiking in the Himalayas or seeking uncontacted tribes in the Amazonian rainforest, you will see an abundance of technology, and more smartphones and GPS devices than explorers in those remote examples.

Much of the world still remains unconnected from the internet, but nations that have a modern infrastructure have societies peppered with technology. The idea of being a ‘tech nerd' is rapidly eroding, as people pin their colours to Apple or Android, and blast opinions on devices, apps, software and more that used to be the domain of the IT worker.

But as Bob Dylan sang, "The times they are a-changin'" and we are all geeks now in one way or another. We know what hardware we want and what software we like.

This raises an awkward question: do we really need heads of IT? For the past few years the role of chief information officer (CIO) has evolved from ‘keeping the lights on' to using technology to drive a more efficient, productive and profitable business.

CIOs are thinking of relinquishing control over some of their IT and automating large swaths of technology with web apps

Tech-Savvy Staff

However, a lot of the budget spent on technology within companies is not coming from the IT department, but from other areas of the business. This is down to workers leaning more heavily on technology to make their lives easier and themselves more productive.

For instance, a marketing department might want to purchase a social listening tool to find out what people are saying about their brand, or the admin and accounts department of an MOT and car repair garage might buy a system from us that tracks MOT renewals and crunches data on their customers and supply chain to identify areas for improvement.

In effect, enterprise technology spending and adoption is being increasingly driven by lines of business rather than by CIOs dictating software and device rollouts from virtual ivory towers. Mind you, you don't have to have a sky-high budget for these systems so call us here at aprompt, to find out more.

Those who remain with their hands firmly on the IT purse strings may suddenly find themselves out of the loop, when workers, bored with the red tape and finding their own alternatives such as free software unapproved by the IT department, create what is known as shadow IT.

Shadow IT

Shadow IT leaves companies at risk of malware infiltrating their networks through dodgy and untrusted software, but more often than not it allows those outside the IT department to get the tools they need to work in the way that suits them. So it's best to invest and stay safe with a bespoke web app that encompasses all the number crunching and analysis that you need.

This trend is only set to increase as staff are familiar with using web apps at home, college and in previous jobs.

This bypassing of the IT department is probably the change most toxic to the future of its leaders, who were once enshrined as gurus of the technology world but no longer have exclusivity over such knowledge. As such, we're beginning to believe that the position of CIO or head of IT is becoming moot. Perhaps CIOs need to be leaders rather than providers, but in the long term perhaps individual departments should have more involvement in procuring the technology they need, and control over a segment of the overall IT budget.

Putting IT spending in the control of the end user would free up the IT department and its leadership from the logistical rigours of procurement, freeing it up to work on projects that require technical knowledge far deeper than the average tech-savvy worker.

Innovation Replacing Information

CIOs could replace the ‘information' in their title with the more fluffy yet aspirational ‘innovation', demonstrating that the IT department is a place for pushing technology to boost business rather than to administer devices and apps.

Of course, IT will still be required to perform more advanced maintenance work beyond the skills of others and the task of integrating different systems.

Removing a large part of IT's traditional function and enabling it to become more of an internal development house, in a similar vein to disruptive technology startups, could have a transformative effect that really changes how IT operates in the real world beyond the ideals conjured up by technology vendors.

In turn, such a move could herald an era in the enterprise world where the potential for cloud, big data and the Internet of Things is truly realised.

p.s. I wish I could take credit for this well written piece but I can’t. Instead it goes to Mr Moore-Colyer.

Written by Kirsty Paget