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Summary:

Reports of the CIO’s demise were greatly exaggerated it turns out. Good CIOs are, in fact, strategic to corporate goals.

With all the talk of chief marketing officers (CMOs) taking over IT budgets, it’s interesting to see a countervailing argument. Case in point: Clorox CIO Ralph Loura was promoted to senior vice president and ensconced on the company’s executive committee, according to The Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal(reg required).

Over the past few years, as bring your own device or BYOD mania swept through big companies, there was pushback among end-users who often viewed IT and CIOs as barriers between them and their favorite devices and apps. That’s why CMOs and other line-of-business managers started using their own budgets to do what needed doing. What got lost in the hubbub was that forward-looking CIOs are problem solvers rather than naysayers. They figure out how to make the new consumer-oriented technologies work nicely in the office.

Still, the discussion over how IT budgets may be divvied up between CMOs and CIOs going forward could get quite heated. Asked whether marketing will ever have more IT budget than the CIO — as a Gartneranalyst once posited — one CIO last year said: “over my dead body.” You get the picture.

Loura spoke at Gigaom’s Structure last year on this and related topics and there will be more discussion along these lines at Structure this year where the CIOs of General Electric and Domino Crystals will be on hand.

Moderated by: Barb Darrow - Senior Writer, GigaOM Speakers: Ben Haines - CIO, Pabst Brewing Co. Ralph Loura - CIO, The Clorox Company

Moderated by:<br />Barb Darrow – Senior Writer, GigaOM<br />Speakers:<br />Ben Haines – CIO, Pabst Brewing Co.<br />Ralph Loura – CIO, The Clorox Company

Mitchell Kertzman, former CEO of Sybase and now managing director with Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, said back in “the old days” customer CIOs were important both to their own companies and to tech vendors trying to sell stuff. But now, “CIOs are even more strategic as data and analytics have become so important,” he said.

Enlightened corporate management now knows that IT should not be viewed as a cost center but should be a critical advantage in honing efficiency and boosting revenue. That is a big change in thinking.

As Chiquita CIO Kevin Ledford said a few months back, all of the angst around CIO job security in the age of CMOs was always overblown. As long as the CIO makes the internal customer happy, it’s all good. However, if, as CIO, “you’re still trying to run mainframe on-premises stuff that nobody wants, then people will go off and do it on their own,” he said.

And at that point, the CIO is expendable.

  1. Todd Nakamura Monday, April 28, 2014

    Great article Barb.

    My favorite line is where you so accurately point out that “forward-looking CIOs are problem solvers rather than naysayers”. I’m an architect, and I feel the exact same way about Enterprise Architecture.

    There’s a class of EA that I like to call the “No” man. He does his job simply by saying “No” to any new innovate solution around the enterprise. It’s so easy to deny a would-be innovator by claiming that their initiative doesn’t fall within enterprise guidelines.

    What’s more difficult is for the EA to actually do his job. That means scouring the web, attending conferences, keeping an ear open to innovators within the office, building prototypes of solutions based on next generation technology and testing them within the enterprise, and keeping standards up to date with the modern technology stack. All of these things need to be done on a regular basis.

    I wrote up an article the other day about the “12 Barriers to Technical Innovation in the Large Enterprise” the other day that I thought you might find interesting. I didn’t want to inject a link here because I thought that might be bad form, but you can Google that phrase if you care to see it.

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