The CIO's guide to 2013
We talked to technologists and IT leaders to figure out what needs to be top-of-mind for the CIO of today—and tomorrow.
For the new year, Discover Performance decided to interview a number of technologists outside HP and within, leading with one simple question: What should be important to IT leaders in 2013? We also put variations on that question to a select group of senior IT leaders in an IDG Quick Poll.
In the poll, we found leaders prioritizing business alignment, improving performance, and transforming business processes—in other words, better, stronger, faster IT that more successfully serves its constituency, be they business users or customers.
The IT experts we interviewed reflected this thinking, because everyone focused, one way or another, on user experience. Mobility hasn’t stopped being critical, most enterprises haven’t solved their cloud challenges, and big data hasn’t gotten any smaller. But each interviewee went beyond buzzwords to talk about the hands-on issues confronting IT leaders in 2013 and beyond.
Below is a summary of the issues—and the specific angles—that may deserve the most focus from CIOs in the coming year or two.
Entrepreneur and IT/business guru Gene Kim talks about innovation, and the steps IT can take to really connect with business peers, and business needs. Kim’s new novel, “The Phoenix Project,” takes on this challenge in depth, and we took advantage of his research in our Q&A.
We know that business alignment—demonstrating IT relevancy—is an urgent need for CIOs, yet our Quick Poll found that few have managed to flip the “maintenance-to-innovation” ratio. Sixty-six percent of our IT leaders report finding less than a third of their time for innovation. That’s a lot of time spent keeping legacy systems chugging along, and CIOs will have to join the 13 percent of their peers who told us that more than half their time goes to actively improving on business-as-usual.
Driven by mobility
Mobility and BYOD were big topics, of course, but with particular implications. Former Forrester research director David West said prioritizing mobile applications is likely to move a lot of development outside the traditional IT organization. “Which leads us to a world,” he said, “where the majority of application development is being managed by the business in the context of business demands and projects.”
In-house or externally provisioned, mobile apps add new wrinkles to security. Robert Richardson, former editorial director of Black Hat, tells us that the sheer number of ways each of us expects to access data, whether as employees or customers, creates a much more complex landscape for security leaders.
And that, notes HP Labs’ Steven Simske, raises a subtler topic: identity. One user might want to access data from her office laptop, smartphone, and iPad—and that’s just in her last hour at work, during her 30-minute commute home, and a five-minute check-in before dinner. Managing identity, as a security and user-experience issue, is going to become an increasingly demanding monkey on IT leaders’ backs.
While mobility is everywhere, our survey group said big data was a more significant issue. The first wave of big data discussion seemed driven by fear and/or wonder: The big data wave is coming! Are you doomed? The discussion, mercifully, has evolved. CIOs are cutting to the chase, as Autonomy architect Fernando Lucini told us.
“The next question with big data is: What’s in it? What can I exploit?” Lucini said. “How do we take the noise and extract the things that are important, useful?”
Cloudera cofounder and CTO Amr Awadallah echoed the point: enormous pools of data are a fact of life. It’s now about extracting meaningful insight from them—and these are the solutions to expect from industry leaders.
Our survey group cited cloud as the technology that will most influence the CIO’s role going forward. Our expert panel agreed. The advent of software, infrastructure, and platform as services—the entire cloud ecosystem—has created a lot of chaos, particularly for CIOs and ops leaders. This technology is not only reshaping IT infrastructure, but also changing the nature of an IT leader’s job.
HP Services’ chief technologist Marc Wilkinson discusses the IT leader’s evolution into a director of a hybrid portfolio of services—internally resourced and externally provisioned. This means picking up new skills, and communicating new processes and priorities in a way that shines some light on the “shadow IT” trend.
Also, a third of Quick Poll respondents said they already get more than 40 percent of their IT services via outside providers. Asked to predict where their organizations will be in 2017, 53 percent expected to be relying on at least that much cloud. Those CIOs will face a lot of questions as they integrate these services.
Both Wilkinson and HP Software CIO Saum Mathur—who talked to us about where SaaS is at—point to information portability as a big cloud issue: Where’s your data, who’s got access to it, how can you use it, how can you secure it?
Whither the CIO?
As CIOs turn their IT organizations to better serve the needs of the business—and ultimately, the customer—they maintain their place as IT liaisons to business leaders. CIOs will have to work to be seen as creative voices in the value discussion.
Dave West commented that apps teams are increasingly embedded in the lines of business. “This is part of a larger trend toward the apps group delivering on business goals, not straight technology goals,” he said. “The CIO’s organization is almost being looked at just to provide the infrastructure and to support that.”
Those CIOs who don’t want to see IT leaders become solely infrastructure managers are the ones digging into the transformative trends like mobile, cloud, and analytics to deliver real value to their customers.
See the IDG Quick Poll here. For more on how IT executives are beating challenges, read the free Discover Performance ebook, “Leadership: CIO Challenges for 2013 and Beyond,” collecting several of our best articles.
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