Will cloud computing, a topic frequently referred to in all kinds of conferences, be applied by CIOs in their corporations soon? Will cloud computing affect CIOs in a good or bad way?
Present in the recent IFIP World CIO Forum held by Chinese Institute of Electronics were CIOs from both home and abroad. Many foreign CIOs remain conservative about the large-scale application of cloud computing, while Chinese CIOs stays optimistic on its prospect and are planning to have a try. However, this optimism is mixed with doubt too, since cloud computing means not just changes in technology but also changes in IT department and CIOs’ role.
For many Chinese corporations, there is no unified planning in their IT construction, and it is hard for CIOs to persuade CEOs into an overall upgrade of their IT infrastructure. The situation can be improved through the application of cloud computing, as its great resource-integrating ability, flexibility, easy maintenance and low cost are good reasons for CIOs to convince CEOs of the necessity of upgrading their IT infrastructure.
On the other hand, if cloud computing gradually makes IT simpler, CIOs’ daily IT work will be much less complex than before. With such simplicity at IT work, how will CIOs’ value be shown?
It is agreed by most people that in an age of cloud computing, it is certain that CIOs should make some changes to their role. According to Wu Jichuan, the director-general of Chinese Institute of Electronics, "while the development of cloud computing and IT technology is accelerating the formation of the 'global village', it also puts new responsibility on CIOs."
Lei Wanyun, CIO of China Pharmaceutical Group and author of two books on cloud computing, said "CIOs need not care too much about the title CIO. They should keep increasing their own value along with the development of cloud computing, thus integrating IT with corporations’ business."
We have sorted out three aspects of CIOs’ transformation, based on the interviews with ten CIOs:
1. Follow closely the trend of IT consumerization and learn more about mobile technology. IT corporations, such as Huawei and Lenovo, estimate that more consumption technology will enter the market, and that more individual terminals will get into corporations’ cloud platforms. Therefore, CIOs need to keep track of the technology and application of mobile terminals rather than just the servers.
2. From CIO to CPO. August-Wilhelm Scheer, expert from the Association of Business Process Management, delivered a speech about the transformation from CIO to CPO, which pointed to a new direction for Chinese corporations. Cloud computing directs CIOs’ attention to the management of business process, making them the CPO (Chief Public relation Officer) of the companies.
3. Cloud computing makes real CIOs. Since the title ‘CIO’ is not clearly defined in most of China’s corporation, it is often interpreted as Chief IT Officer rather than Chief Information Officer, with their work confined in IT level. But this problem can be solved by cloud computing. With cloud computing, Chinese CIOs can better focus on information rather than information technology, thus becoming an information manager and estimating the future of the corporation in a broader perspective.
In addition, many CIOs believe that there will be more female CIOs. In fact, a popular saying goes like this: It is hard to be a woman, while it is even harder to be a woman CIO, resulting in the small number of women engaged in information technology. Of all the CIOs I know, the ration of male to female is 35:1. Now as the technology requirements have dropped with the help of cloud computing, more women CIOs will come onto stage and put on great shows with their good management and accurate judgment.
For Chinese corporations and CIOs, cloud computing means more about changes in people’s minds than in company structure. While cloud computing cannot be applied to corporations altogether, CIOs can take this opportunity to make a fantastic turn.
Of course, it is a big challenge as well.