Last night the Fairfield Westchester Chapter of SIM (Society for Infomation Manager) held its monthly meeting and dinner program. We were fortunate to have a well known Forrester analyst, Stephanie Moore, present some research and views on the changing role of the CIO. With the advent of powerful, yet simple mobile devises like Android and Apple phones, tablets and now cloud computing, ordinary people have more computing capability faster and cheaper that the massive computing infrastructures you typically found at the office. Once upon a time you would do email or download large files at the office because that is where you had the powerful systems and internet bandwidth. Now you do it on your mobile device.
Today we would view this as somewhat ridiculous. All of the characteristics of power have been standardized. Anyone can "plug in" an electric device to an outlet and expect it to work. The utilities provide an affordable, reliable and elastic source of power. Whatever the appliance you need may be you simply go to the store (physically or virtually,) review your choices and purchase the one that suits you best. There is no concern around whether it will interact properly with your other appliances or work in your house. Electricity has been totally consumerized.
But you can take this analogy further and show how, as the power industry evolved, the management of it evolved too. We still have people who are trained and expert in managing the production of power. We still have researchers and engineers trying to enhance electricity through new forms of generation, cleaner and more efficient delivery. We have electricians and electrical contractors needed to install the infrastructure, and new electrical appliances are introduced all the time.
My point is this. While some aspects of computer technology have become standard, affordable and generally accessible to anyone, we still need good governance, procurement, integration and custom design for technology to optimally drive any business. Like the marketing department who carefully orchestrate the corporate facade, image, brand and message, the CIO will continue in the role of conductor ensuring all the musicians, while perhaps using their own instruments, are playing the same tune and know the score.
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