Recently at the IT Service Management 2014 conference I got into a debate via social media about the need for a Chief Digital Officer. The presentation was on cloud computing and service management and the presenter suggested that an organisation going down a cloud route ought to have a C suite person responsible for data.
I challenged this with the comment that if an organisation has a Chief Information Officer then they already have this in place! A little cheeky really as I guess I would protect the role of CIO, but the rise of Chief type roles relating to technology will at some point be unearthed as a cash cow for the IT executive. In some respects maybe we ought to come out now and be honest that at the executive level, if we can have one role responsible for technology generally then that is a great achievement and a leap forward in the last five years.
Chief Technology Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Information Security Officer, can we roll all of these into the CIO role? Surely this is just begging for the ‘too many chiefs and not enough Indians’ phrase to be used by someone. Even at the Information Security Forum Congress there was a whole workstream on ‘will the CISO be the new CIO?’. It seems everyone wants the CIO role to become something else.
Organisations want to place the release of benefits from technology at the centre of what is being delivered. I believe that the CIO is the right role to do this. Information is surely the most important phrase out of all the chief related roles, after all we don’t just want to collect date, we want to change data into information and put it too good use, and with that in mind surely the CIO is the role at the top of the technology chief-doms?
We have been using phrases centred on the collection of data to create insight for a couple of years now. Hearing it echoed back by some of the most senior people in our organisation makes me think that we have got the message right. The fact that our information is credited by our CEO as being our second most important asset tells me that the role of information is more solid in its foundations and we have matured from the need for a Chief Data Officer as we have a collective responsibility for information through a single point of responsibility at the top table.
The elaboration that the information strategy had to go through to reach the point where the organisation consistently considered information over data was quite a journey.
For us this journey started with creation of the Information Strategy in mid-2011. At the very core of the strategy we pinned our designs on a transformation where the systems that collect and manipulate the data are considered separate to the information the organisation lists as an asset. This separation would allow the organisation to have a clearer understanding and view of the value of its information rather than considering everything to be technology, wires and tin.
The team that volunteered for the delivery of technology across the organisation were the key authors for this strategy. However to ensure that the transformation from data as part of technology to information that delivers insight required the team to work at the core business end of the organisation. This would require far more understanding than had been seen before from a technology team, suddenly empathy became a skill for a technologist to have.
The engagement of research teams and executives from many speciality areas was actioned on the basis that they would ultimately then be able to influence the deliverables that ensured the implementation of the strategy.
So now several years later we are coming to the end of what the strategy prescribed, and as I said earlier we now hear the most senior parts of our organisation echoing back the information that delivers insight phrase rather than data collection. However we need to maintain this attitude, once there it doesn’t simply exist because it has been achieved.
So our organisation is sticking with the concept of one C suite role responsible for the delivery of business change and benefit through technology. The role will remain strategic in focus and be the voice at the board that is responsible for making the most from technology, but, they will be responsible for the data, its security and the innovation it brings as well.