SINGAPORE--Driven by the varying needs of employees, customers, and business partners, CIOs today are struggling to figure out the best model to drive their company's ICT needs.
With the rise of IT consumerization and cloud services, businesses in Asia are increasingly pressured to meet demands from different user groups within the organization for pervasive access to their corporate applications and data.
At the ZDNet TechBizz dialogue held here recently, panelists highlighted the changing role of IT heads who no longer have direct control over what employees and the management team choose to use as work tools.
Dane Anderson, vice president of research director and region manager at Forrester Research, noted almost everyone, except IT itself, is now driving an organization's ICT environment. Five years ago, CIOs were the ones in the driver's seat, but the power has shifted so much away from them, Anderson said. He added that folks from the management team, employees, customers, business partners, and even competitors are now driving a company's ICT strategy.
"The IT team is struggling to keep up," he said. Noting that customers should now be steering the wheel, the analyst said: "It's about how you can generate business outcomes through technology. For most organizations, [in terms of] who's driving ICT, it's a mess. A lot are figuring out what is the best model."
Fellow panelist Stephen Lim, head of the technology committee at Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said the challenge to CIOs today is "real". He explained that, traditionally, CIOs feel they need to translate business strategies meted out by the CEO and realize them through technology.
"When you have someone else now playing that role, like the cloud providers and users have choice, CIOs lose control. They can no longer tell employees they can't use certain applications. They may run a department that makes sure all necessary systems are running properly, but the ability to dictate what the company should implement is now a step away from them," Lim said.
He noted that the necessary tools required to make an employee's job easier are all available online and can be tapped without the CIO's involvement. Users can simply hop on it without the need for their company to provide any infrastructure, which leaves the relevance of IT heads in question, he said.
"The traditional role of the ICT of realizing these roles for the users and management is confused, since they're now being bypassed," Lim added.
Anderson, however, said the CIO role will not be completely replaced. "The question is what role will CIOs play and how prominent will they be. We see a ot of change taking place today...so IT will need to adapt."
A video of the entire panel discussion is available in two parts, or read our report covering other key highlights from the TechBizz dialogue. A similar discussion will also be held in Sydney on July 17, and Mumbai on August 7.
TechBizz SG panelists:
- Dane Anderson, vice president of research director and region manager, Forrester Research
- Gary Teo, director for IT services, SIM University
- Leong Yuh Khee, vice president of technology, Changi Airport Group
- Nick Pilbeam, director of strategy consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers Hong Kong
- Stephen Lim, technology committee chairman, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry