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Why CIO heads are very much in the Cloud

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I was reflecting on the most recent Deloitte CIO survey the other day and read with interest that many respondents were struggling to change perceptions of IT as a mere provider of routine IT services and educate business leaders on where it can add real value. Indeed, only 19% of CIOs in the UK responded that their organisations saw the IT function as a credible hub of innovation.

I do wonder how the increased leveraging of Cloud-based, managed services will impact that percentage going forward. Admittedly, innovation is very much a mindset and culture thing, and you don't suddenly become a progressive innovator. Indeed, there are probably many long-serving IT heads out there who are wondering how to reinvent themselves, and transition their departments from traditional cost-centres to providers of added-value. But I wager that there are many more who have wanted to try things and been beaten down by the prospect of a protracted cycle of strategic planning, business case, budget agreement, contracting, proof of concept and provisioning. And the economic crisis that is only now starting to loosen its shackles certainly won't have been a friend to agile, nimble thinkers and determined, pragmatic doers.

But the affordability, accessibility and deployment speed of managed services is a potential game-changer. Because as long as the business case is made, the innovator can realise his IT vision with a rapidity and efficacy and assurance never available before. It's worth noting too that six out of ten survey respondents also cited recruitment issues as a barrier to progress - the service and skills wrap inherent in quality managed services is therefore a neat workaround.

Every day we work with a good number of client CIOs and IT directors who have long ago left the 'head of housekeeping' role behind them. They are strategists and planners and project chiefs, who are brilliantly orchestrating the range of on tap, enabling technologies to drive innovation and competitive advantage like never before.

This accords with one of the comments from the Head of Deloitte's technology consulting practice, Kevin Walsh: "The CIO has never played a more prominent role in the boardroom, nor have they had more opportunities to get closer to the strategy of their business than now.

"Some IT leaders are already playing a far stronger role at executive level; this is underpinned by the finding that almost a third of British CIOs are considering a CEO or COO role as their next career move."

I'd certainly expect the savvy users of the Cloud era to be amongst the early promotions.

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