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John Soat wrote a summary of one of the panel discussions at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. One of the interesting questions raised was whether the CIO should move from being a architect of the company's technology to being an architect of its business processes. The response was "I would not trust the CIO to re-architect the organization." The highlight is mine.
If you have a CIO that is both an expert in running the business and an expert in the technology, I can't agree with this comment. But the reality is that any CIO that has this level of skill is probably already on the CEO track. Why stay in an "IT role" when you could be running a business (especially since there's almost a stigma against CIOs being viewed as business leaders - the CIO's glass ceiling)? So, this is a very rare breed.
Assuming you actually want your business processes automated (a problem that spans IT and business), the question for me, then, is who would you trust?
You can't trust the CIO because they are not an expert in the business - they won't understand the subtle trade-offs in the ways the business processes need to work. You can't trust the business leader because they are not an expert in IT - they won't understand the subtle trade-offs in the way the IT applications and SOA infrastructure need to work.
So who do you trust? You trust the person that listens instead of talks. The person that takes input instead of dictating. The person that recognizes they don't have all the answers, and is comfortable with that. The person who has built a team, top to bottom, that works this way as well.
A lot of the better CIOs exhibit many of these qualities - unfortunately the one thing they almost invariably lack is these same qualities embedded, top to bottom, in the DNA of their IT organization. Until CIOs can address this, I have to agree with the panel: you can't trust the CIO.
On the other hand, can you trust the business owner instead?
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