The New Wave of IT and the Role of the CIO


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The New Wave of IT and the Role of the CIO

  1. 1. Chapter 1 The New Wave of IT and the role of the CIO Booking an airline ticket was a surpris- ingly manual process before the mid- 60s. Booking agents used handwritten tickets and chalkboards to allocate seats on upcoming flights. But in 1965, American Airlines launched Sabre, a computerised booking system that used two mainframes, a thousand terminals, and a million lines of code. It could process 40,000 reservations a day, turning IT into a competitive advantage for American Airlines: It needed fewer employees and offered better customer service than its rivals. The mainframe era was a revolution for business as one company after another automated paper-based processes. But the underlying technology – mainframes and the software that ran on them – was the exclusive preserve of a high priest- hood of engineers and the companies that could afford them. The PC era changed that. It ‘democra- tised computing,’ according to pundit Nicholas Carr, and it ‘liberated the com- puter from corporate data centers and IT departments turning it into a universal business tool.’ This process of democratisation turned computing to a commodity. The result? ‘IT doesn’t matter,’ said Carr in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article of the same name. If everyone used the same systems and ran the same software, how could they differentiate themselves? In other words, there were no opportunities left to repeat American Airlines’ game-changing innovation using IT. If IT was a commodity, then IT chiefs were in danger of commoditisation too. The IT department’s job was to keep the servers humming, to keep the PCs run- ning, and to deliver annual budget cuts. For a while it looked like the role of the CIO had been indefinitely determined. The last few years have changed all that, forcing a re-examination of the CIO role and contribution. We’re going through another IT revolution now, driven not by a single innovation but by several. The most disruptive technolo- gies over the next decade, according to a Gartner survey of CIOs, are mobile (70%), big data/analytics (55%), social media (54%), and the cloud (51%). These new technologies are not only changing IT, they are changing busi- ness itself. For example, car compa- nies don’t just compete with other car companies. They compete with social- media-inspired, cloud-hosting carpool- ing services (for example, BlaBlaCar), taxi and limo apps on smartphones (for example, Hailo and Uber), and hourly car rental services (for example, ZipCar). Size, incumbency, and a long history are no defence against the new digital insurgents. This new wave of innovation will make all IT infrastructure a commodity, perhaps even a function of purchasing or facilities management. Companies will need to embrace new technologies in different ways, picking and choosing the right combination to meet individual business needs.
  2. 2. Follow us on: © 2014 NetApp, Inc. All rights reserved. No portions of this document may be reproduced without prior written consent of NetApp, Inc. Specifications are subject to change without notice. NetApp, the NetApp logo, Go further faster, Data ONTAP, Flash Accel, Flash Cache, Flash Pool, FlexCache, FlexClone, FlexShare, FlexVol, MetroCluster, MultiStore, NearStore, OnCommand, RAID-DP, SnapManager, SnapMirror, SnapRestore, Snapshot, and SnapVault are trademarks or registered trademarks of NetApp, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Mac is a registered trademarks of Apple Inc. Windows and Windows Server are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. ESX and VMware are registered trademarks of VMware, Inc. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Intel is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation. All other brands or products are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders and should be treated as such. IT now permeates almost every aspect of modern business and as competitive pressures increase, the money-in, services-out approach isn’t good enough. Delivering value to the business is now the priority. According to a Gartner survey of CIOs, the top ten business priorities are: 1. Increasing enterprise growth 2. Delivering operational results 3. Reducing enterprise costs 4. Attracting and retaining new customers 5. Improving IT applications and infrastructure 6. Creating new products and services 7. Improving efficiency 8. Attracting and retaining the workforce 9. Implementing analytics and big data 10. Improving business processes These priorities, arguably, don’t fit entirely into the traditional role of the CIO. As the focus moves to business objectives rather than only ‘keeping the lights on and the servers running,’ the CIOs position within the business is at a significant crossroads. 1. Source: Nicholas Carr, “The Big Switch” 2. About NetApp NetApp creates innovative storage and data management solutions that deliver outstanding cost efficiency and scale to meet changing needs. Discover our passion for helping organizations around the world go further, faster at Go further, faster®