C-level briefing: Citrix’s Jason Tooley explains what his company has learned about the CIO in a new consulting programme.
One of the big themes of the last year has been the realisation that the IT department does not just to have to "keep the lights on" – it can increasingly take a role in driving new revenue streams.
How can the CIO become more integrated into deciding on business objectives? Citrix has been exploring how the gap can be bridged with a CIO consulting programme, in which CIOs from key industries are interviewed to discuss their role as an enabler of business.
"We looked at the fact that there was a real focus on the CIO needing to deliver more value to the business," says Jason Tooley, UK and Ireland Country Manager at Citrix.
"This meant the CIO and the team needed to understand some of the user requirements and use-cases to a far greater level than they had done historically."
The programme started as an attempt by Citrix to build skills in specific vertical markets within its organisation, but it revealed other key aspects of the modern CIO role.
"There’s historically been a situation where perhaps the CIO was not always as connected to the business as was required," says Tooley. "Some of the CIOs that we’ve been working with recognise that theory in the process and their communications back to their CEO were that the role of digital transformation was inherently part of the CIO’s role.
"We are seeing more CIOs taking the bull by the horns and saying that digital transformation is much more their responsibility. I think that’s adding value and driving benefit for the business rather than purely providing a technology service."
However, as Tooley adds, this is not just up to the CIO; it has to "flow in both directions."
"It’s important also that the business embraces the CIO as part of that delivery chain and part of added value through innovation.
"You ideally would want CEOs and the board recognising that there is opportunity for digital transformation by innovative use of technology and the type of technology IT can deliver.
"On the other hand, in some cases CIOs need to be more forceful about being proactive rather than reactive. That creates opportunities on both sides."
Where will the CIOs of the future come from, then? Will they be business people or technologists?
"In the past CIOs have come from more of a technology background.
"They are going to need to continue to have an IT heritage and operational rigour, but there is potential to have people perhaps with greater business experience or knowledge within a particular vertical market, and maybe an understanding of the challenges and opportunities that present themselves within those particular verticals."