There’s a lot of interesting thought leadership coming out of Gartner at the moment about the next possible stage in the evolution of the IT role. Do we want to stop being seen as the Chief Information Officer, basically, or do we need to start styling ourselves as Chief Digital Officers instead?
I think it’s a fascinating question. And what it really comes down to is the continuing, complicated relationship between the business and the technology function. Consider: only a few years ago we were saying, Mr IT Manager, your job isn’t about cutting costs and watching pennies or even about new technology anymore, it’s actually about what extra value can you deliver to the business. So now, you’re a CIO, not an IT Director.
Of course, that jump assumes he or she fully understands how the business works in the first place, how its operations rely (or don’t?) on information or how it handles customers, or indeed how staff really do their daily work (more often than not that is paper-centric). In fact to get that level of understanding you need to have a picture of how not just paper but information flows, is blocked or gets channelled around the organisation… which you and I would call, of course, document management. This is the essence of what we do.
That’s not the main point of what I want to argue here, though. What I am really saying is that this whole CIO/CDO debate is really about using digital and information to its best use. For example, most well performing project managers or key decision makers are nine times out of ten people that have grown out of doing the operational side and then become a sort of pseudo adviser for the IT practice. They may have moved into IT, but it’s rare for them to have a formal background in IT or have a computer science degree, for example.
These kinds of business analyst or technical adviser or ERP Systems Analyst type roles are becoming more commonplace. Then again, you get the guys that are kind of bored with being labelled as the gadget guy and who find out they have a genuine interest in business and how and why the organisation does what it does. (By the way, frankly everybody that works in the document management industry cannot afford to be just a technical person, nor can they be just a regular sales person – they have to learn how companies operate in order to understand how we can best help them.)
What I am convinced of is that as business evolves and we are all becoming more and more focused on the digital opportunity, while the CV and the job title of the head of the team most active in engaging with technology in the organisation is subject to change, the most important thing hasn’t: that you need to ‘get’ what it is we do around here – and look for the most effective tools you can to help! This new angle of considering the ‘social’ aspect to handling matters is just another example of needing to be aware or having to improve information flows.
I guess what I am trying to say is that information and what DM uncovers for the organisation is a crucial part of that leader’s toolset – no matter what we call them.