It has been a while since I last connected with Ray Wang, the onetime Forrester analyst who left to do some startup work and is now CEO of Constellation Research, an outfit with 22 associates that studies disruptive technologies.
I took in a Web session and later spoke to Ray about the session and what he is calling the four personas of the next-generation CIO. This might be four different types of people, or four traits of the same person, depending on the nature of their own CIO job.
It's an interesting look in the mirror or a way to define your own CIO. Ray's four personas, (in which the abbreviation conveniently holds), are chief infrastructure officer, chief integration officer, chief information officer and chief innovation officer.
The chief infrastructure officer is the guy we remember from five years ago before CIOs came under attack by a weak economy and bosses who lost interest in their expensive projects that weren't working or over budget. Most of their budget was and remains keeping the lights on which made them less able to respond to new technologies. "The business was not having any of this," Wang said, "and it paved the way for the rise of cloud, SaaS and accelerated consumer applications.
Over the years and more so lately, this tension has led CIOs to branch out in the remaining three personas by decree or necessity.
There's the chief integration officer, who deals with mergers and acquisitions, has 5 to 10 percent of the budget and spends time pushing things out to audiences.
There's the chief intelligence officer, who might have a growing budget that's 10 to 15 percent of the total; he or she gets the right data to the right person at the right time in the right form factor.
And then there's the chief innovation officer with 5 to 10 percent of the budget, who lives in the world of deploying things in order to respond quickly to new demands or challenges.
Where there's some commonality between the latter functions it's partly due to the demand side calls that progressed from reports with numbers that agreed, to better deployment through dashboards, and now toward mobility and really handy features that enable decisions.
The new CIOs might be business people with a tech bent or vice versa. "Your job is to align more to the business side so you can create those synergies," Wang said.
I asked Ray how overworked CIOs should manage time and build staff. "People are looking at staff augmentation and (business process outsourcing) and thinking about taking some of that back in house so they can move faster," he said. "But it's really about expectations. We are doing so much in a day, more than people could imagine a year ago, we're at some kind of all time high."
I've always observed a certain number of CIOs who stuck to their work as what they should be doing even when doubts arose in their mind. Today's CIO, we might agree, must be prepared for change and embrace integration, intelligence and innovation as the situation calls for.
It's no easy task, but it's interesting for someone in this position to reflect on their day and ask themselves, as Ray poses it, which one am I and why?