Cloud creating new breed of CIOs

Cloud computing freeing up CIOs to focus on business needs but executives need to pick up new skills such as understanding regulatory and compliance issues and commercial procurement, exec states.

SINGAPORE--Cloud computing is changing the roles played by CIOs as it frees them up from IT issues to tackle business strategy and innovation issues, according to a CA Technologies survey. This, in turn, means they have to pick up new skills to be competent leaders, an executive pointed out.

The survey report, titled "The Future Role of the CIO 2011", and released on Wednesday revealed that 60 percent of Singapore-based respondents believed cloud computing had enabled them to spend more time on business strategy and innovation. Of the CIOs who have adopted cloud services, 94 percent indicated that they have more time to spend on innovation, compared with 21 percent among CIOs that have yet to adopt the technology, it added.

The global study, commissioned by CA Technologies and conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne, polled 615 CIOs in organizations with 500 or more employees in the telecoms, retail, financial and manufacturing sectors. Asia-Pacific countries surveyed include Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

New skills required
As cloud computing gains increasing importance, CIOs will also require new skills in order to be effective in cloud environments, the report showed. Eighty percent of the Singapore CIOs interviewed recognized this, and identified skills such as regulatory and compliance, understanding risk, negotiation, sales and commercial procurement as areas to brush up on.

"We already know that cloud computing is 'revolutionary' in terms of what it can do for businesses, but it is also breeding a new type of technology leader--one who clearly understands what adopting cloud computing can do for the organization and believes that cloud can empower them to become a more complete technology leader of tomorrow," Victor Cheng, vice president of CA Technologies Asia South, said in a statement.

Perspectives changing
The way CIOs are viewed by top management is also changing, with 60 percent of Singaporean respondents noting that their C-level management team views the CIO role as becoming increasing important within the organization.

Pierre-Francois Vilquin, CTO of CA Technologies Asia South, who in town for the press event held on Wednesday in conjunction with the release of the survey, said the CIO is no longer the "geeky guy doing back-end duties". Instead, they are now looking to expand the business and competitive advantage, as well as justify how they are using the IT budget, he noted.

"He will have to mange current resources, scalability as well as external suppliers," he said.

Vilquin added today's "business-savvy CIO" must be a change agent in that he or she will have to instill confidence among board members when it comes to cloud adoption, improve the board's views of cloud and manage the IT supply chain.

Cheng, who was also at the event with Vilquin, also pointed out that more CIOs are being considered for the role of CEO during leadership renewals.

This is because CIOs increasingly have both the IT skills and are business-savvy too, he said, adding that they potentially understand the business better than the CFO or COO--traditionally the executives favored for the top spot.

However, Cheng qualified his statement saying that this trend of CIOs taking over the CEO role will take a few more years to be realized.