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

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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][/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.

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

  1. This is about as relevant as any tech article I’ve read here. The role of traditional ‘information officer’ has to expand and get more collaborative. Purely because the role of information itself – acquisition, inference methods and what we distill has changed massively. It is much more about knowing the business impact, revenue draw, marketing and BigData/ IoT endeavors. That means CMO is about as much entitled to green-light IT spendings. It also would mean freedom of mind from settled cloud computing or metrics options (more and looking for affordable and compatible solutions.

  2. A complex integration officer should live and die by Cauchy’s Theorem.

    I have plenty of experience in the (anti) derivative markets, having held positions as both complex integration officer and contour integration officer.

  3. Makes a lot of sense. Over thirty years of consultancy at numerous clients, across several industries, I’ve seen way too many turf wars. It causes immense damage to morale, careers and in the end, the bottom line.

    In one bizarre case, I saw a CIO carry his resignation letter around for months and stamp his feet like a spoilt child if anyone attempted to introduce new ways of doing things. In the end, the board called his bluff and accepted his resignation.

    In another even more ludicrous case, I saw senior IT executives sabotage a new software system that they didn’t like, as they saw it as a threat to their jobs (it wasn’t). In the classic Luddite manner, they attempted to destroy the project, to discredit both the new technology and those involved in creating it. Of course, as soon as the board discovered their egregious behaviour, they were fired, so in a way, the project did cause their downfall, but not in the way they expected.

    There is no point in trying to hold back progress. Just ask King Canute. Embrace it and see how it can benefit everyone. There is no other option.

    • Paul Singh

      It is interesting to see your comments as we encounter this quite a bit. We at Espresso Logic have a new way of reactive programming based rules system that can reduce development time significantly. However, even after seeing the proof point, some IT managers and developers get threatened by it as it disrupts their conventional way of doing things. How could I complete a project in weeks for which we planned months?

      Technology is changing fast but it doesn’t always get adopted due to cultural barriers to change.