CIOs – are you digital enough?

CIO walking on tightrope over cityscape

In some of my recent conversations with CIOs, I’m struck by the thought that, at least where the digital is concerned, they may well be part of the problem.

The problem stems from a mental model where the future is always a linear extension of the past. But who would make such a simple mistake? Well IT Leadership roles today are far too busy to be close to the detail. What happens as a consequence is ‘management by extrapolation’, where IT Leaders subconsciously draw  a straight line from a 25 year out of date technology paradigm to represent today. In traditional IT, the approach has worked well, but for digital technologies, it doesn’t. That’s because digital technologies don’t have their roots in the “systems of record” from the 1970s and 1980s, but rather are the children of Web 1.0 thinking. Web 1.0 embodied heterogeneous architectures, a collaborative open-source approach, and a handful of universal connectivity standards (HTTP, URL, HTML).

What does that mean for CIOs and IT Leaders more generally? Quite honestly, they need to go back to ‘tech school’. Or rather to ‘web school’. However, with the roles as pressured as they are, I think very few will find the time.

It would be great if all our StartUp competitors over the next 5 years would build their platforms in COBOL on an AS400, and then try to modernise them. Sadly they won’t, and most wouldn’t even know what COBOL or an AS400 are. Your competitors of tomorrow will be crafting highly engaging, socially inspired interactions, hosted in the cloud.

If you can’t give a good description of at least half of the items in following list, you’re probably part of the problem: API, JIRA, GitHub, AWS, UX, MongoDB, Node.js, Hadoop, JSON

CIOs – are you digital enough?

Rob works with technology start ups and leading retailers on the impact and opportunities of digital technologies

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