Nature has a system of weeding out things that are no longer needed, like the human tail or the Chief Information Officer. At least, that's what GigaOM's Pete Johnson argued might begin to happen if CIOs don't begin adapting.
Johnson believes that the role may start appearing less necessary, thanks to easily-available cloud services. However, companies need to be cautious of leaping too quickly. While the cloud initially may seem to save money, the trade-off can be in support for innovation.
Johnson points out that when HP decided to consolidate its IT department as a cost-cutting measure, their plan of action was standardization. The company went from 85 centers scattered across the globe to six in the US, reducing costs by about half.
While it was good for the budget, it was a nightmare for employees. Teams were forced to name their needs a year in advance, as promises of streamlined projects became trapped in a reality of a diminished IT group in flux.
"What’s happening today to CIOs is similar in that they face pressure to lower costs with cloud approaches. Only now, any impatient business unit with a credit card can go get services for themselves without involving IT at all," Johnson explained.
The solution he suggests is two-pronged: combining flexible software processes and specialized cloud computing to help IT become an aid to innovation and functuality across a company. The combination can help save costs and improve productivity at the same time. For example, when Revlon CIO David Giambruno began using a private cloud, there was a 425 percent increase in the number of projects completed over five years.
As new technologies become more accessible, it's essential for CIOs to ensure that the support provided by IT isn't sacrificed to simple-sounding cloud solutions. Adapting "requires company leaders to stop thinking of IT as a cost center and start thinking of it as a functionality enabler," Johnson said.