More on the CIO's Demise


Following up on my earlier post about the potential death of the CIO, I put the question to Dr. Jeanne Ross, director of the Center for Information Systems Research at MIT Sloan.

Her take: CIOs aren't going away. In fact, their portfolios could very well expand.

Ross echoes many CIOs and other experts who have astutely noted that because IT touches every element of the business, IT leaders (and the people in their organizations) are uniquely suited to help determine what should be standardized across their companies. "You have this gift in IT of seeing across the organization," she says. "IT is as helpful as anybody of saying what should be standardized and not."

On top of that, businesses are finding more value in knowledge management, what with the onslaught of data over recent years and the concerns over storing and managing it all. CIOs, naturally, are best suited to make sense of the overload.

And perhaps most importantly, CIOs can play a critical role in process management. Pull together disparate processes--and add value to business operations--and non-IT functions won't gripe so much about the costs. "They stop bickering about what they pay for it," she says. "Then you really get to sell IT as a service."

And with that success could come greater responsibility, much like CIOs at Dow Chemical, FedEx and State Street, who have been tasked with managing critical business processes and units within their companies.

Maybe that means a new definition of the CIO role itself. Or maybe that means multiple definitions, depending on a company's needs or the industry they're in, she adds. "What may happen is that we'll have a difficult role of defining the 'CIO,'" Ross told me. "The CIO role could be amorphous for a few years. We could see more than one definition."

What do you think the role of the CIO will be in the future?


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