Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

The fading role of the CIO?

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There are a lot of articles floating around about the role of the CIO. Is there a problem? The questions seems to be about where is the role going. Clearly, something is on people's mind. 

But what is happening? 

The CIO world is stirred, if not shaken, by the new world order brought by the Cloud. 

The Cloud, for ease of understanding, is a business model where a business and technical services are outsourced to third parties. 

Because, in principle, it is cheaper and more reliable, it makes redundant the IT army that had to install, upgrade, keep in working condition and roadmap a service.  

And, as long as the technology behind a business service is  taken care of, the business people are happy without involving the IT department at all. 

In particular business is happy because the upfront cost and risk of the technology investment is eliminated since CAPEX is replaced by OPEX. The cloud paradigm is "pay per usage" rather than invest upfront which may not return value at all if not late.

Besides, the Cloud service is quickly tested, installed and scaled over the net. And if not returning results, it is perhaps closed down. For big events, the service can be scaled up (and subsequently down) to adjust to demand without upfront additional investment.

Also, security and backup are inherently provided.

What is important for this discussion is that the business signs contracts directly with the service provider avoiding the IT department altogether because the service is a business matter rather than IT. In effect, the IT has no role in this transaction.

What else is happening? Business prefers to deal directly with the service suppliers. 

I cannot imagine why, you may say. 

Perhaps business is rather satiated with the perpetual IT excuses and and explanations of the type "can't", "busy" "not now", "it costs", "we have no skills inhouse"...   The IT motivations seldom cut it with the business even if they are real. It is just that the priorities of IT and business clash when the IT is slow responding, having, in general, a life of its own.

Well, IT costs a fortune as well. An IT application or server upgrade costs more than the product itself sometimes. By comparison, main upgrades may cost as much as cartridges do in relation to a cheap printer. Moreover, the upgrades (servers, applications...)  have to be done at an alarmingly decreasing interval and mean usually disruption for the business. Your server becomes obsolete every four years. 

Further more,  IT skills are not aligned with those of the business, in fact, they are quite different. The dialog between the two is often marred by different jargons and different cultures. 

Then, why do we have to have IT departments in each and every business? In the beginning we didn't. Then we did. Then we did not because we could outsource the infrastructure to a data center and applications maintenance to a few other 3rd parties. But that costs a hand and a foot, there are quite a few parties,  that manage the technology, to manage and you still have ownership of the hardware and applications to various degrees. 

But today we have the virtualisation technology, broadband networks, the Internet and the Application and even Process as a Service.  The technology is mature enough. 

In short, we do have now the Cloud that offer flexible Storage, Processing, Networking and business services from no matter where in the world, reliably, cheap, almostly instantly up and running and paid per usage. 

There are still a few security issues and in particular national regulation constraints. But we always had that. We have had to live with Windows for a long time even if it looked like a gateway to all evils in the security world.  

Then, since the technology moves to the Cloud what would be the role of the CIO in the enterprise?

The title of CIO is somehow misleading in the first place since the CIO does not really mean Chief Information Officer but Chief Information Technology Officer (that is CITO) which is very different.  

If there is no technology left to manage why should we talk about a CIO?

The CIO role will gradually move into the CEA, Chief Enterprise Architect at least because there is no more technology to take care of and business integration is the priority now. Services, coming together from various providers such as IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, have to be harmonised in an efficient operation in what we may call a virtual Cloud enterprise.

Without this integration, too many outsourced business services mal-working together can bring the enterprise to a halt. 

This job cannot be done by the business since they have to deal with the big picture of the enterprise that does not exist. The EA architect is the modeller and keeper of the "big picture". 

The architect will make sure that the enterprise, made of  cloud services, works together as a whole. 

And, indeed, the EA would be the key factor in developing the virtual enterprise of the future made of outsourced services.

The CEA, Chief Enterprise Architect, shall be the new CIO.

Indeed, exceptions are the companies that offer the business services where the CIO role is so important as to become the COO because, in such cases, the IT delivers the key products of the enterprise.

The CIO of today have to think of the transition to the new role starting now while the technology still operates in the enterprise in hybrid clouds.


See as well  the Cloud Enterprise paper.

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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