Once every workplace had a tea lady; usually a happy friendly woman who cheefully dispensed tea, buscuits and office gossip around an organisation.
During the 1980s the company tea lady vanished as companies cut costs and changing workplaces made the role redundant, is it now the turn of the CIO to go the way of the tea lady?
Yesterday research company company Frost and Sullivan hosted in a lunch in Sydney outlining their views on the growth of cloud computing based upon their 2014 State Of The Cloud report.
The report itself had few surprises with a forecast of the cloud market growing 30% each year over the next five years, a statistic that won’t surprise many watching how users are moving away from desktop applications.
One of the key trends though is how cloud services change the procurement process and lock IT managers and Chief Information Officers out of decision making. As the report says;
Half of all organisations feel that the decision making process is shifting from that of the CIO and IT department to the individual business unit for implementation or updates of cloud applications such as HR, payroll, collaboration and conferencing.
While the report puts a positive spin on what it describes as the “evolving role of IT within organisations”, Mark Dougan – Frost & Sullivan’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand – mentioned that often the decision to adopt a cloud service were made by executive management and then the CIO was told to implement the technology.
This illustrates how CIOs’ already tenuous grip on being a senior management role has slipped. With the rise of cloud services, it’s become easier for executives to make choices without considering the technological consequences.
Probably the business that best illustrates this shift has been Salesforce where many corporations find they have dozens of subscriptions being charged to sales managers’ credit cards, much to the chagrin of company accountants and IT managers. Salesforce and similar businesses have driven the trend so far that many consulting firms predict marketing departments will control more technology spending than IT managers in the near future.
That shift predates the coining of the word ‘cloud’, the term “port 80 and a credit card” was used to describe the Salesforce model of sales people signing up to what was then described as Software As A Service (SaaS) earlier in the century.
Does IT matter?
In 2003, writer Nicholas Carr predicted IT as a discipline would cease to matter within most organisations as technology became ubiquitous and taken for granted, just as electric power and railways did in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The electricity and railway industries remain huge employers and are essential to modern business but most for most companies the products are taken for granted – few companies have a Chief Electricity Officer sitting on their executive team despite power being an essential service.
For those IT managers hoping for a senior c-level position or even a seat on the board, the move to the cloud is terrible news. Rather than getting the corner office, the CIO could be heading the way of the tea lady.