Forget “information” – CIOs should be chief integration officers, says former CIO

Chief information officers (CIOs) who feel bloodied by the consumerization of IT and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) waves roiling the corporate landscape had better get a grip because they ain’t seen nothing yet, according to one former CIO.

“If you think the last five years have been interesting, you’d better get ready for the next five because the consumer really is in charge,” said Charlie Feld, founder of the Feld Group, who knows a little something about the topic. In past lives, Feld was CIO of [company]Burlington Northern Santa Fe [/company] and VP of MIS for [company]Frito-Lay[/company], and is a member of the CIO Hall of Fame. 

On Tuesday, Feld was in Boston promoting his book, The Calloway Way: Results & Integrity, based on lessons learned from former Frito-Lay and [company]Pepsico[/company] CEO Wayne Calloway. On his watch, Pepsico managed to double revenue and profitability every 5 years for nearly a quarter century. And, while his is not a household name, Calloway was a director of GE for 7 years, where he was a key mentor to the much-more-public GE CEO Jack Welch.

To succeed today, CIOs need to put aside turf wars with other C-level execs, including chief marketing officers to make sure their users get the technology they need. “I would put my arm around the operation [chief] and the CMO and say ‘let’s figure this out together,'” Feld noted.

And one way for CIOs to lead is for them to focus on knitting together all the technologies flowing into a modern organization, regardless of how they are acquired — via the IT budget or unsanctioned expense reports, which is basically how [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services became a big factor in enterprises.

“The CIO has to become the chief integration officer. No-one now has the responsibility to integrate all these functions — [company]Salesforce.com[/company] here, ERP there, legacy systems over there, Amazon [Web Services],” he told an audience of startup execs Tuesday night, where Feld joined his brother, VC and TechStars Co-founder Brad Feld, at an event at an N2Event in Boston’s tech-heavy Seaport District.

The real crux of the issue is that whether CIOs and CMOs get along or not, users (a.k.a. consumers) are now really in charge of technology buying decisions.