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CIO’s – The Game has Changed by Dan Martinez

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Author – Dan Martinez, CIO ProRodeo Cowboys Association

The game has changed.  Many of the rules that were always in place are being challenged.  The cheese is no longer in the same place, it was moved.  And tomorrow the rules will change some more.   The role of IT, and perhaps more specifically the top IT executive, is evolving.  And it’s not going to slow down anytime soon.

There have been a number of game changers, but two in particular, which I believe are currently driving this shift, and changing how everybody, from consumers to executives, is looking at technology.

Ever since the Blackberry put email in the palm of your hand, to the latest generation of smart phones and the ever expanding suite of applications, the appetite to use mobile technology to further a business goal appears insatiable.  Even the desktop, which is still so prevalent in the workplace, is being influenced by mobile technologies.  Add BYOD to the mix, with its security concerns, and potentially complex support needs and the impact to IT becomes even clearer.

Similarly, the use of Social Media and the power it has to move an audience to action is impossible to ignore.  Recall how omnipresent the ALS Ice Bucket challenge was this past year.  While the corporate use of Social Media platforms often resides outside of IT, many organizations are looking to IT to help define and implement their Social Media strategy.  Better yet, the smart ones are using Social Media as an integral part of a service or product that drives growth and sales.

Companies are adapting to this ever changing landscape and the impacts are directly impacting how and where IT sits in the organizational structure.  There has been a recent emergence of a Chief Digital Officer or similar CxO roles to lead many of these efforts.  Where does this leave the CIO?   Historically, the CIO has not always had the equal footing in the C-Suite of other executives; yet, the use of technology continues to become more centric to the long term strategic goals of organizations.

Arguments could rage on endlessly on the causes and possible solutions to this paradox.  But on the whole, it comes down to a simple and time tested idea:  how to maximize business value.   Like any other part of the organization, IT must continue to deliver and provide value to the organization.  As leaders within IT, it is incumbent upon us to deliver this value, consistently, and demonstrate our place at the table. If we fail, we risk IT being viewed as a necessary function with little voice or influence within the C-Suite.

Yes, the game is changing.  But the end goal and desired results have not.  If IT, specifically the top IT executive, is to remain relevant and influential, we must continue to evolve with the changing landscape and continue to provide business value.

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