I’ve heard from a few sources recently that there is a move afoot in Whitehall to replace CIOs (Chief Information Officers) in government departments with CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) and CDOs (Chief Digital Officers). I don’t know the validity of that story, but it strikes me as credible as an attempt to shift the technology agenda from internal systems facing to external customer (or taxpayer, or citizen) facing.

People in tech, though, can get a bit sniffy about such branding changes. It’s easy to see it all as superficial.

What’s sometimes missed, though, is that if you want to do things differently, you need to not only change your actions but also your uniforms. If something looks like it used to, it’s much harder for others to accept that it has changed. If you want to get away from old-school IT, part of the change is to stop calling it IT and stop running it through a CIO. Changing names is only part of the puzzle – but shouldn’t be overlooked.

I had one of my regular put the world to rights sessions with Matt Baxter-Reynolds last night, and we were talking about this topic. It dawned on me that these issues of nomenclature impact on the supplier side of the industry too. Specifically, would Windows 8 have been more successful if it had been called, say, Microsoft Tiles?

Now put aside for the moment the question of whether “Tiles” is a good brand name or not – focus though on would the act of changing the brand (maybe to be strap-lined as “with Windows inside”) have made acceptance of the new product easer than it being identified as “merely” an incremental new version of a known entity? Was much of the cognitive dissonance that was caused by the user interface previously known as Metro as a result of it saying “Windows” on the box?

Certainly Apple didn’t have die-hard Mac users complaining at the time of the iPad coming out about it not being MacOS-enough. If the iPad had been known as the MacSlate, I wonder if it would have been the success it has been?

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