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Changing of the guard: CIOs’ roles must shift

Changing of the guard: CIOs’ roles must shift 

Although CIOs may have put rules in place to prevent this behaviour, many employees ignore these regulations in favour of ease and convenience. As a result, CIOs become frustrated. Aaron Brooks, director of innovation, Softchoice, believes that situation does not have to exist. In an exclusive interview with IT in Canada, he discussed some of the best practices CIOs can adopt to keep their companies safe and themselves sane. 

Brooks pointed out that the employees in the lines of business divisions do not use applications such as Dropbox out of malicious intent. “They’re just trying to drive business,” he said. Because they have been tasked with making the company profitable, LOB workers do not have time to wait for IT to offer them technology solutions. They need to stay on the cutting edge to remain ahead of the competition. Dropbox and similar solutions are easy and fast ways to do just that. 

For CIOs, Dropbox is a nightmare. It does not possess enterprise-level security, meaning that data can be leaked from the company unbeknownst to the IT department. The people working in LOB divisions do not understand the security ramifications of Dropbox and other such applications.

What can the CIO do to gain control of an organization’s digital security without compromising its competitive advantage? Brooks recommended that the role of the CIO must transform to overcome this challenge. “The CIO needs to be an enabler, not a gatekeeper,” he remarked. Instead of dictating to LOB departments which technology they can and cannot use, the CIO has to consult with them to determine their requirements. “The CIO needs to be much more consultative,” Brooks commented. “He or she needs to be brought into the strategic part of the conversation much earlier so they can suggest solutions. They need to show lines of business that they’re there to support them.” 

Brooks explained that the first step in this transformational process is to understand what the business outcomes are. Once the CIO gains this insight, he or she must find technology solutions that will achieve the desired results while still keeping the company secure and meeting compliance standards. Another part of this evolution is assessing the extent of employees’ usage of solutions that have not been sanctioned by the IT department. Brooks called it “an education process” for LOBs and CIOs. 

How can this transformation go smoothly for the whole company? Brooks urged CIOs to enlist the aid of the CEO. An organization’s chief executive is best positioned to bring about such a transition. Softchoice’s director of innovation noted that this change is already taking place at leading edge companies. Some CIOs have actually voluntarily given up their budget to LOB departments. Brooks predicts that CIOs’ roles will ultimately be that of service brokers. It is a progression that will take time, although the rapid rate of “shadow” IT adoption makes it a necessity. 

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