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IT know-how comes second for the 'CIO 2.0'

Gartner analysts have predicted that future government tech chiefs will be business and relationship focused, with IT knowledge taking a backseat
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

The new wave of government chief information officers will be business and relationship focused, with IT knowledge being pushed into the background, according to analyst firm Gartner.

With the integration of IT into the fabric of many government processes, the role of a CIO has been changing, said John Kost, managing vice president of Gartner, speaking at Gartner's Symposium in Sydney on Wednesday.

Kost sees the CIO role as encompassing jobs such as venture capitalist, economist and political visionary. Leadership, relationships and business are the pillars of the role, he said, with the "CIO 2.0" understanding the business of departments, and showing the heads opportunities to innovate.

Government leaders aren't interested in "decisions about which brands of blade server to buy", said Kost. In order to get past the "impenetrable wall of technical apathy", CIO 2.0 needs to pitch the value of IT investments.

IT departments have been known in the past to accept the blame whenever IT investments go wrong, according to Kost. A CIO 2.0 needs to prevent this by using their networking skills to make the core areas of department take responsibility for IT projects supporting their area.

"Any time you have an 'IT project' you have already failed," he said.

Kost said that there are four main stages of CIO development: the first is the "pre CIO", mainly looking at policies and what IT the department should be considering as part of its political agenda.

CIO 1.0 evolves to be an IT management role, where the CIO works with everyday technology infrastructure.

CIO 1.5 has the CIO not so concerned with the everyday technologies, but instead trying to work with department heads to consolidate technologies to save money and improve efficiencies.

CIO 2.0, the newest version of the CIO, is defined by external relationships. The evolution of CIO 2.0 has seen the role "become that of a broker", Kost said, in that the CIO determines the needs of his department and matches them with the offerings of one or multiple vendors.

This outsourcing of department technical problems is typical of the role, with the focus taken off in-house IT development, Kost continued.

The mantra of CIO 2.0 is "I don't need to own it all," the analyst said.

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