IT Reaches the Tipping Point

IT is dead. Long live IT! 2013 is turning into a watershed year for CIOs as the traditional CIO is not the CIO of today. Business expectations, IT leadership styles and technology solutions are all driving an evolutionary change for CIOs and the IT organizations they lead. The changes did not happen overnight as business shifts, Shadow IT and New Technology were all contributors.

Now that the industry is reaching a tipping point where the new CIO model becomes the new standard, look for a number of changes moving forward:

Business-IT Relationship

The CIO will lead the charge in transforming the relationship between IT and the rest of the business. In a related post I talk about the importance of the Three-Legged Race on the business, CIO and IT relationship. As such, business leaders start to view IT as providing greater business value rather than just a support organization. The new CIO works with peers toward revenue growth, not just expense containment.

IT Strategy

Similar to changes in the CIO role, the IT function changes as well. The IT focus shifts from technology to business innovation. IT strategy directly aligns with and is driven by the overall business strategy. If an IT activity is not directly supporting the business strategy, why is IT doing it? Day-to-day operations become table stakes while innovation and revenue growth take priority. In essence, the IT organization becomes a business organization rather than a technology organization. IT’s customer is no longer the internal user, it is the business’ customer.

IT Leadership

The CIO and his/ her lieutenants all speak a common language: business. The days of talking technology are behind us. To support this change, the CIO creates is a strong culture within IT that breeds business focus and career growth. Outside of IT, the CIO leads the charge for true business engagement with fellow executives and their organizations.


The purpose of technology changes to become an enabler, nothing more. The new model moves away from religious technology debates. With technology, CIOs shift focus on the business value for the entire company, not just the IT organization. The new model CIO embraces new and innovative technology as a differentiator rather than waiting for peers to adopt it first. Common stumbling blocks like security, while still very important, are not used as a wet blanket to smother opportunities like cloud computing.


The new IT model presents a massive opportunity for the CIO and business that looks very different from today’s CIO and IT organization. Moving from technology to business and turning data into information creates the new business currency. The new CIO presents the core differentiator between competing businesses. In essence, by leveraging the new model, the difference between businesses is influenced by the CIO and IT organization. The business looks to the CIO and IT organization for information to make core business decisions and the conversations take a decidedly business-focused turn.

These changes represent a significant shift from prior or even the current model being used by many organizations. None of these changes will be easy or quick. 2013 simply presents a tipping point for the new model. Reaching critical mass between the business, IT and technology creates the catalyst for change. The new model is strong and provides a strong opportunity for the CIO to shine. Now is the time for CIOs in the old model to turn the corner and adopt the new model.

Tim Crawford is ranked as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Chief Information Technology Officers (#4), Top 100 Most Social CIOs (#7), Top 20 People Most Retweeted by IT Leaders (#5) and Top 100 Cloud Experts and Influencers. Tim is a strategic CIO & advisor that works with large global enterprise organizations across a number of industries including financial services, healthcare, major airlines and high-tech. Tim’s work differentiates and catapults organizations in transformative ways through the use of technology as a strategic lever. Tim takes a provocative, but pragmatic approach to the intersection of business and technology. Tim is an internationally renowned CIO thought leader including Digital Transformation, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT). Tim has served as CIO and other senior IT roles with global organizations such as Konica Minolta/ All Covered, Stanford University, Knight-Ridder, Philips Electronics and National Semiconductor. Tim is also the host of the CIO In The Know (CIOitk) podcast. CIOitk is a weekly podcast that interviews CIOs on the top issues facing CIOs today. Tim holds an MBA in International Business with Honors from Golden Gate University Ageno School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Golden Gate University.

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