An opportunity to examine the role of a CIO

I’ve spoken to many audiences on the nature of the CIO role and the imperatives facing those of us in that management position.  The norm is for the audience to be existing CIOs or senior IT leaders but last week I spoke to some potential CIOs of the future who are at an earlier stage of their career, as Fujitsu hosted 18 delegates from the ESSEC Business School to examine the role of the CIO in the modern enterprise. I found that the intellectual energy, enthusiasm and willingness to challenge of the delegates made for a fun event..

I spoke about a day in the life of the CIO: the challenges we meet; the business drivers we embrace; the many different ways that IT can relate to business; and the consequential dimensions that a CIO needs to cover (not just infrastructure/integration/information but also innovation and intelligence).  I’ll write more on these topics later but they were intended to give the delegates an insight into the life of a “real” CIO, or at least this particular one!

Following my talk, my team took some of the demands that I face and worked with the ESSEC students to workshop a part of the process which our Open Innovation Service covers, triaging a number of demands, analysing them for underlying issues, identifying possible solutions, and finally investigating the value that the resulting solutions may offer for ourselves, our customers and our customers’ customers.  Of course, we couldn’t go through all of the details of our Open Innovation Service in an hour but it gave the students some insight into the way that we approach innovation, and they seemed to enjoy the experience and we were all impressed by how they took to the challenge.

Innovation is an important part of being a CIO and it carries with it so much expectation – everyone has strong views about innovation! So it was gratifying that the workshop was so successful and, even in spite of the language barrier (I didn’t attempt to speak French!), the students really understood both the complexity and the potential of what we are trying to do. I hope they took home some valuable insight from the morning they spent with us. For my part, trying to explain the many pressures placed on the CIOs of today to CIOs of the future was a wonderful chance to look closely at my role and evaluate how it might evolve in the coming years.

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