According to publications like Wired, Bloomberg, Forbes, and CIO.com, the evolving role of the CIO is from one only caring about IT infrastructure, rarely interacting with the CEO, to a much more crucial role in strategic management. Because today’s CIO’s are concerned with more than mainframes and now contend with BYOD, cloud computing, and other business initiatives, they must “become chief integration officers if they want to stay relevant in 2015”, according to Bill Goodwin, Editor of Techtarget and Computer Weekly.
There are tools helping CIOs move from gatekeeper to barrier breaker, as our CEO, George Gallegos, wrote in a recent article for CIOReview.com:
The cloud revolution has fundamentally changed the role of the CIO. Instead of serving as a systematic component of the organization, today’s CIOs must adapt to become facilitators of strategic business development and innovative processes throughout the organization. This empowers people to work more efficiently across departments, and makes it easier for companies to react quickly and keep up with the latest technological advances.
Take enterprise tech giants NetSuite and Autodesk. Their new approach to integration and the cloud has led to a major shift in IT responsibilities. By offering out-of-the-box integration of their cloud-based solutions, they eliminated a lot of heavy lifting for their customers’ engineers. This freed those engineers and IT staff to focus on more strategic efforts instead of simply managing hardware and software systems.
Cloud Software Is Eating the World
An overwhelming number of business processes have moved to the cloud in the last several years. It’s not just CRM and ERP – companies have found innovative ways to shift tasks that traditionally relied on substantial local computing power, such as architectural design – to faster and more efficient cloud-based platforms.
For example, the international hotel design firm Think, Inc. used to experience rendering times of 26 hours for its blueprints, but that time has been cut to 26 minutes with Autodesk’s cloud-based rendering application. With cloud-based rendering the user can instantly provision thousands of CPUs rather than remaining constricted to whatever compute power existed on site.
Similarly, CRM and ERP cloud solutions offered by NetSuite and Salesforce.com, among others, allow companies to outsource data management, so they don’t have to worry about updating software and running large servers onsite. For the CIO, these cloud solutions remove many of the hurdles to implementation for complex systems – such as lack of IT personnel, high up-front costs, commitment risk and deployment time.
CIOs have been particularly attracted by three key characteristics of cloud-based solutions: they can get everything up and running quickly, scale up or down as needed and can stay up-to-date without draining IT resources. But as companies have quickly adopted a wide range of cloud applications to take advantage of these benefits, CIOs have had to figure out a way to keep all the solutions working together. Instead of buying fully integrated on-premise software to cover all business process, CIOs now need to integrate cloud solutions with each other and to legacy on-premise systems to achieve the full value of each application.
CIOs Turn to Cloud Integration to Manage New Solutions Ecosystem
Traditional on-premise integration was extremely difficult, but when it’s done in the cloud it becomes much faster and easier. Major software vendors would spend months with squads of dedicated developers to integrate their suite of applications to ensure that data and info could flow seamlessly across the organization. Enterprise software companies that wanted to connect solutions from different providers would go through the time-consuming and resource-draining process of coding and deploying legacy integration solutions. In both cases this often meant pulling in consulting firms to help design, deploy and manage these integrations. When their software solutions changed or were upgraded, the integration code would have to change too.
Traditional integrations often fail because they have five major downsides:
• Varied and inconsistent, point-to-point, connections
• Focused on individual process needs
• Expensive and time consuming
• Require hard coding processes
• Difficult to update and modify
However, cloud-based integration removes all of these headaches for the CIO. With cloud integration platforms, CIOs don’t have to worry about how to stitch together all of their technology investments, but can instead focus on how connected apps and processes can be used across departments, partners and customers.
For example, Jitterbit designed out-of-the-box integrations for NetSuite and AutoDesk PLM360 that enable business users to easily manage product changes, supplier collaboration, new product introduction, quality control and materials oversight across both platforms. For NetSuite and AutoDesk customers, this led to streamlined digital processes, better customer intelligence and more accurate pricing and order data. Furthermore, integrating these solutions in the cloud minimizes the demand on IT, and eliminates the need for complex and expensive server-based perpetual licenses. Instead of managing servers and software,CIOs can focus on creating new processes and innovative products for the company.
Finally, cloud-based integration prepared CIOs for the next wave of collaboration: connecting to partners and customers beyond the walls of the organization. Easy-to-manage cloud integration platforms enable CIOs to open up their systems in a controlled and secure manner. This paves the way for radical new business processes, such as crowd-sourced designs and immediate partnerships with small start-ups offering disruptive technologies.
Today’s CIO is no longer a gatekeeper; the modern CIO’s job is to remove barriers across departments and connect siloed processes. As more CIOs break down walls in their companies, integrated cloud solutions become even more essential because they facilitate easy collaboration and new cross-departmental processes. The cloud enables good
ideas to become widely accessible, and a more democratized environment leads to greater innovation.
“We need to recognise the CIO as the linchpin, capable of understanding the complex information flows, from business to customers, consumers and suppliers,” said David Tansley, technology partner at Deloitte. This is the new role of the CIO, linchpin between technology and business, with the ability to enable an entire staff quickly and easily through the use of new tools available to any digital business.