CTO to CTO Blog
8 March 13

The Changing Role of the CIO

Phill Lawson-Shanks
CTO, Virtacore

In 2011 Colin Bannister, CTO of CA Technologies, first posed the idea in a Cloud Vision Blog post (See the full text here.) that the CIO needed to transition to become a “broker” of IT services. In the two years since his blog entry, with the accelerated growth of cloud infrastructure and cloud hosting service providers along with the explosion of all things cloud, I have found his concepts and ideas to be even more relevant today than they were in 2011.

I suggest that this transition for the CIO from “Manager” to “Broker” is a critical step in the evolution of how technology services are being adopted and will continue to evolve. In 2011 Bannister said:

“Now, with IT able to expand out to the cloud, CIOs no longer need to purchase new servers or redo their networks. Besides the cost savings, it also means that IT can move away from tactical tasks and focus on innovative work, like creating new services and designing quality assurance around those services.”

Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) providers are quickly flooding the market with price competitive offerings that are already changing the server landscape in the technology hardware market. It is not inconceivable to imagine that in as little as a few years, the idea of buying a new “server” will seem completely out-dated. We are witnessing a fundamental change in how hardware and software and being delivered to the market. Business Application & Platforms delivered on Technology as a Service.

As Bannister predicts, the best CIOs will be those who begin to think of themselves as resource brokers and act more as a consultants, or trusted technology advisors, and less as managers of IT infrastructure. The future of business is about being flexible, nimble, efficient and responsive to changes in the marketplace. The CIO needs to be a big part of that approach. Over the past 20 years we have witnessed radical changes in technology and in the past five, with the explosion of mobile computing and on-line resources, we have seen an even greater impact technology has on business operations. The CIO as a broker is one who understands how the technology trends and resources can be assembled to form a solution that best serves the needs of his/her organization.

My recommendation to CIOs is that you begin thinking like a consultant and find ways to improve the overall service delivery IT provides to your organization. That, coupled with becoming an efficient broker of IT resources, will improve your, and your organization’s, ability to meet and successfully address the challenges of the future. Much like an entrepreneur is seeking ways to serve his/her clients, the most successful CIOs will be those who can act like a consultant/broker and skillfully motivate and encourage his/her team to adopt a very similar approach. If not, they run the risk of being left behind.

Phill Lawson-Shanks is CTO of Virtacore, a leading cloud services provider specializing in virtual infrastructure solutions utilizing VMware.

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