There is something particularly exciting about Barack Obama’s plan to appoint a government chief technology officer. Not only is this good for government, but it’s also good for the IT industry. Like Ron Tolio of Cap Gemini has said:
No half measures. And quite a strong message to many corporations that struggle with the role of IT in business. This is far from the marginalised position of an IT manager who apathetically reports to the CFO about cost cutting and risk management. This is a boardroom position, one that is supposed to create strong impulses for change and growth.
There is a real difference between a CIO that is charged with ‘serving the business’ and one that is charged with ‘getting value from IT’. You can serve the business by saying ‘it’s the business’s money therefore they get to decide how to spend it’. But to commit to delivering value out of IT you have to commit to business benifits and a business return of technology spend. You need to actually contribute to the strategy and deliver growth through technology spend.
It doesn’t matter what type of CIO you are. As long as you know what is expected you can be successful. But if you are successful purely because you have moved investement decisions to business units, who is ensuring that you are getting the most value out of IT? Is IT actually contributing to the organisations strategy and growth?
Anyway, it’s also good to see a few of these sites popping up too. ObamaCTO.org allows anybody to suggest ideas for the CTO role, which are then voted on and ranked. Now this sort of system is still susceptible to manipulation by special interests. But it’s transparent – and that’s all you can do.