Technology Influence Pendulum Swinging Back to CIOs | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

For the past few years, the pendulum for control over technology decisions moved into the business, and the stakeholders other than the CIO gained increasing flexibility to deploy technology. Now we’re seeing a bit of a pendulum swing back towards the CIO’s influence. It isn’t that we’re going back to the days in which all technology decision making happened in IT. What’s happening now is a move towards a more integrated approach.

Why is this happening?

As digital transformation projects become larger, their implications cut across business units and across functions. These projects are not small pilots. The transformation is an end-to-end experience that requires substantial change from integrating legacy systems through new digital systems.

As these end-to-end journeys become larger and more complicated, the business is less able to drive them. The CIOs’ existing responsibilities naturally drive them to play a larger role. Also, the project management and change management skills within an organization are often vested in IT or closely aligned with IT. So, IT is in the best position in terms of its skills to manage end-to-end journeys.

Digital transformation involves more than collapsing a business process into a set of data

As companies drive deeper and further into the journey of digital transformation, many aspects of the business model must change, as processes and data are interrelated throughout the organization. As digital transformation starts taking hold and these projects begin making substantive business impacts, the CIO or CTO needs to be responsible for integrating existing enterprise apps and digital technologies to make the digital promise effective.

An interesting phenomenon is happening as the business unit leaders start relying more and more on IT. As the business gives more influence back to the CIO, it results in an imperative for CIOs to become more flexible, more business oriented and sensitive to business needs. It’s also causing CIOs to recognize the need to modernize the IT environment so that the business can operate in a more integrated, end-to-end manner.

The bottom line is IT is increasingly in a better position to deal with large digital projects and end-to-end transformation journeys; so, CIOs and CTOs are gaining a little more influence in technology decisions. Note that I said, “a little more influence.” Currently, CIOs and the business are sharing decision making and influence. But at least for the time being, the pendulum seems to be moving slowly back to the CIO. However, I don’t believe it will swing back to the old command-and-control world of IT.


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