Out of the Frying Pan

Traditionally, a CIO’s job all about infrastructure and making sure that things tick, but today that job is steadily morphing into one that is also responsible for business process transformation and other unrelated activities.

According to a new METAgroup study, Driving the Business Value with IT, 42% of CIOs indicated their job scope included other business functions, from facilities to HR, and, of that group, 29% specifically indicated their job scope included responsibility for leading or supporting business transformation.

This is the highest margin in the two years the study has been conducted, said CD Hobbs, senior vice president with METAgroup’s Executive Directions and a finding he characterizes as “startling.”

“If you went back two years ago and measured the number of CIOs in a typical CIO audience that METAgroup faces … you might have seen two or three or four percent that had non-traditional job descriptions,” he said.

But, with the downturn in the economy leading to tighter budgets all around, CIOs are finding themselves in a unique position within their organizations. Unlike most managers, IT executives are capable of viewing business processes from end-to-end, cutting across organizational silos to see the complete process. This means many CIOs have become the defacto managers of process change and optimization, said Hobbs.

“IT had a real opportunity over (the past few years) to contribute cost savings itself,” he said. “But the significant thing is its ability to contribute cost savings outside of its own boundaries. So we’re seeing a rapid increase in CIOs reporting that job description is expanded either with addition business accountability or additional business transformation accountability.”

What these findings also mean to Hobbs is 58% of CIOs are doing jobs that may be phased out in the coming years. Hobbs sees IT outsourcing accelerating as companies find the value of IT really comes from the information the technology supports and not the technology itself.

CIOs still grappling with rationalizing infrastructures may find themselves quickly becoming outdated as the value of their contributions becomes commoditized.

“Sort of the bottom line to me is the CIO needs to understand the new requirements the business is placing on the ITO and have to prepare to satisfy those requirements …,” he said. “The fact is, if they’re not looking at what’s driving, adapting and changing in their industry and where they need to be adaptive, they’re probably in trouble.”