Calculating Risk

Harding pointed to another major reason the role of technology executives has been changing: regulatory compliance.

“We are doing some acquisitions, so we have to decide on the timing of the acquisition,” he noted. “If it’s a private acquisition, the question is can be get them SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) compliant in time. Before, we wouldn’t worry about that sort of thing when merging IT functions of the acquisition.”

Besides the focus on compliance Fersht said he’s seeing a lot of technology executives get involved in major overhauls in the IT infrastructure that will greatly benefit enterprises.

“We’re seeing a real move toward an IT architecture that decouples all the legacy, mainframe and inbred systems and sends them in business services that fulfill a business need,” he said. “We’re seeing real cases of service-oriented architecture (SOA). Ultimately, if your CRM system isn’t intertwined fluidly with your HR and procurement systems, you’re in trouble.”

Such initiatives are not without their expenses and risks, Fersht said. And while they are not as glamorous as some of the “in” initiatives of five or six years ago, they will benefit enterprises more in the long run, he said.

All things considered, though, this is still a very good time to be a technology executive.

“It’s not risk aversion but the role of the CIO continues to change plus there’s a much stronger dollop of business savvy than was the case before,” said McClaskey. “Plus, there’s been more integration into the business leadership team, which has led to a tighter link to financial officers and a better understanding of payback and being committed to a return on investment (ROI).”