18 Oct 2012
Gone are the days when a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) was valued for being an outstanding technology architect. For over a decade, company leadership has looked to its CTO for the ability to translate technology into meaningful business advantages.
To lead IT effectively, CSOs will have to augment their objectivity, analysis and logic with talents often associated with right-brain thinking
Accenture believes this role is about to morph yet again – into the Chief Service Officer (CSO). The game changer is cloud computing. For many organisations, the cloud brings an ‘everything-as-a-service’ mentality, reshaping how the IT function will have to operate to deliver value. And to execute these changes, IT leaders will need a decidedly different set of skills.
IT’s evolving role
In the age of the cloud, business unit leaders can bypass their organisation’s IT function and buy services direct from cloud providers. For any CEO, that raises concerns about IT costs, standardisation and system interoperability. It also puts the IT function at risk of being sidelined. To address these concerns and secure its future, the IT function will have to shift its role from building bespoke technology systems to selecting and managing pre-configured components in ways that meet business customers’ needs. IT will therefore have to evolve from a technology service provider into a technology service selector, director and integrator.
The talented CSO
Done well, this change could transform the IT function from a cost centre into a growth enabler. By helping companies procure and piece together the right cloud components, IT can empower organisations to meet customers’ needs at pace and scale – powering top-line growth. But to manage all this, IT functions will need leaders with the right skills. To lead IT effectively, CSOs will have to augment their objectivity, analysis and logic with talents often associated with right-brain thinking – including the ability to understand other people’s priorities, manage relationships and make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, objects or events. Traditionally downplayed as soft, these skills will become essential for success in a cloud-enabled business.
You will need to gauge how cloud computing is changing the IT landscape and how your technology team will need to operate in the future
Tomorrow’s IT leaders will therefore have to excel on several fronts. They will need to treat business customers in IT in the same light as external clients, by understanding and serving those needs better than outside IT providers can, maintaining good relations. The CSO will also need to know which cloud service offerings are available to business customers, which best suit their needs and what the cost and risk considerations are. They will also have to meet business customers’ priorities more responsively by mastering the hybrid environment – sourcing, managing and integrating a diverse mix of cloud-based, on-premise and legacy services.
Creating a well-defined service catalogue for the business is key to CSO success, and
managing quality through effective service-level agreements with cloud providers is essential. CSOs should also protect data integrity, security and consistency throughout the organisation’s many systems and processes, and understand the business’ strategic objectives by articulating how cloud solutions can support them.
If you haven’t started the conversation with your chief technology officer about IT’s evolving role and the new leadership skills it demands, you need to do so now. You will need to gauge how cloud computing is changing the IT landscape and how your technology team will need to operate in the future to deliver strategic value to your organisation. And you’ll have to find out whether you have the requisite abilities within that team and — if not, determine how you will acquire them.
For more information, visit accenture.com/cloudstrategy