I’m currently reading Ian Cox’s new book Disrupt IT, a book that outlines his views on how IT departments need to restructure and refocus themselves to be fit for purpose in 2014 and beyond. I’ll dig into that in more detail when I’ve finished it, but it’s provoked one thought that’s so bloomin’ obvious yet hadn’t before occurred to me – that the CIO is terribly misnamed.
The “I” stands for Information. And yet what the CIO, and the IT department does and has traditionally done, rarely if ever is about Information. It’s about Information Technology, sure, but even that is a term from the 80s that never really meant much. IT departments and the CIO are responsible for technology, data, process, process automation, service management, communications, collaboration services, procurement, project management, business change, security… the list goes on.
As we find ourselves in this age of data, big or otherwise, even the old debate about the distinction between data and information (the former far less valuable than the latter) seems to have gone out of the window. The two are used interchangeably with the emphasis now on the shorter word. We’re not debating the merits or opportunities of Big Information.
Now all of this might sound like a unimportant semantic point – the sort of thing that many CIOs wouldn’t want to get bogged down in. But naming things is so crucial to identity, it’s no wonder that the CIO is prone to a self-identity crisis.
CMO (marketing) does marketing. CFO (finance) does finance. So, Mr CIO (and they are overbearingly “Mr”), what exactly do you do?
Don’t take this as the starting point for a debate about renaming – just that maybe, possibly, the CIO has always had this challenge. Labouring under a title which means little or nothing to what they have done, or might do in the future…