The chief information officer is one that has always sat inside the company, and alongside the CTO, CMO, and CEO, they work with the budget and strategy for information technology decisions that affect enterprise organisations. No two CIOs are going to do the same job, but they’re almost always kept inside the company, hired out as a C-suite leader when they may not be needed for the entire length of their position. What if the future of CIOs was a world where the office and role was virtualised, and could be brought in only when it was needed? What if the CIO was just another service you could add to your company?
On-demand: the future of CIOs
Our current world makes it possible to turn almost every major service into something that doesn’t need to be there all the time, but rather only when you need it. We all know about software-as-a-service, something Google Apps, Salesforce, and Office 365 have all helped to engrave in our minds, but what if the CIO could be a service as well? The word "XaaS" literally means "anything as a service", and only when the "X" is replaced does it turn into a new offering:
- DaaS means "data as a service"
- IaaS means "infrastructure as a service"
- NaaS means "network as a service"
What if the on-demand CIO became CIOaaS, the CIO as a service? This virtual CIO isn’t a dream, and thanks to the rise of consultant platforms, it is already something organisations can embrace. No longer does the CIO need to be a permanent player in the C-suite, and can instead be called on demand, able to provide advice and oversight without a full-time position being occupied. Once virtualised, this position is afforded the savings typically found in other services, reducing overhead and allowing a strategic direction to be formed without needing to approach the IT department. Talent options can also be improved, with a wider scope of resources due to the virtualised nature of this future of CIOs. Instead of requiring an on-site CIO, the offsite virtualised CIO can be anywhere, improving talent choices considerably.
While the CIO handles everything related to data and its management and the CTO takes cares of technological infrastructure, there remains a question as to whether one will supersede the other. With our dependence on hardware lessening and the rise of XaaS platforms, the individual managerial roles of the CTO may be downgraded, or even merged with the role of CIO. In 2017, the NSW Police Force grappled with the problem of independent roles, restructuring its IT division to combine the roles of CIO and CTO, and it won’t be the last. It’s possible that it could give rise to the new title, a combined chief information and chief technology officer, forming the new chief digital officer or “CDO”. That will be dependent on the on-tap nature of the CIO, however, as the XaaS nature of CIOs could leave the digitally combined CDO to wrestle with internal data questions alongside the rest of a company’s technological approach.