He may be best known for hit business books like “Growing Up Digital” and “Wikinomics,” but Don Tapscott joined the legion of execs posting to LinkedIn this week with a piece that takes direct aim at the so-called experts suggesting the CIO role is in its death throes.
As part of a series of articles penned to coincide with the 20th anniversary of The Digital Economy, which was recently re-released, Tapscott addressed the ongoing criticisms that IT executives aren’t keeping up with business demands. He acknowledges that many corporate users can now easily procure many products and services for themselves. He also notes the popular ideology that cloud-based services may reduce the need for dedicated, on-premise IT oversight. Cutting the CIO out of the picture, though, is “folly,” Tapscott said. He goes on to propose an alternative way of thinking about the way CIOs would serve the business instead:
“There is a solution to this dilemma. A new model of the IT function is emerging, and one that makes the CIO more important than ever. Call it the IT Services Supermarket. Here’s how it works: The CIO anticipates business needs and provisions a rich supply of services, from standards for mobile devices to architecture compliant applications and cloud services – all in the “shelves” of a supermarket. The business customer goes to the supermarket — a self-service portal or catalogue and pulls up the available IT. They choose the services, and the level of service required and combines them to meet their technology needs.”
Tapscott’s point is well-argued, and given his near-ubiquious presence on the tech conference speaking circuit, his IT supermarket model may prove influential, particularly if other vendors pick it up and run with it. The whole thing is worth reading in its entirety, but also make sure to look through the more than 70 comments, many of which suggest he’s on the right path. There are a few dissenters, though. My favourite: “CIO increasingly = CBO (Compliance Bunny Officer). Hot stuff happens at CTO & DevOps layers… :-).”
Maybe so, but someone has to run the IT supermarket. And for the moment, at least, CIOs are still the ones you’ll find deciding what winds up at the checkout.