SEARCC President’s Column – “Less is More”

Within 5 years most organisations will be running significantly less IT infrastructure than they are now and some will be running virtually none at all. Contrary to accepted wisdom, this will substantially increase the role and influence of the CIO as it will free him or her up to undertake their most important role, namely that of working closely with their Senior Executives to innovatively apply IT to the core business of their organisation.

As the Garner Group recently observed “Uncertainties surrounding prospects for an upturn in global economic growth are the major retardants of IT growth. This has translated into real reductions in IT budgets for many organisations and there is no evidence that they will be significantly increased in future. “Business as usual” ceases to be an option after a year or two for CIOs faced with the need to continuously cut costs. More radical solutions are required and in an environment of continual cost cutting, they will be entertained and adopted. Many CIOs are now embracing disruptive technologies to allow them to deliver within diminishing budgets.

In their 1995 paper, “Disruptive Technologies: catching the wave”, Joseph Bower and Clayton Christensen from Harvard, introduced us to the concept of a technology that eventually overturns the existing market order after what may have been a slow or unpromising start. They called it disruptive technology. There have been many examples; the telephone which started life as the electric speaking machine with Western Union declining to buy the patents from Alexander Graham Bell;  and digital photography which despite starting out with low picture quality and poor resolution, has come to dominate its market.

Cloud Computing is a continuing at an increasing pace, to significantly disrupt the way we deliver IT infrastructure, software and applications and is redefining the nature of the IT market. It is the sheer scale of public cloud computing offering practically unlimited capacity on demand that will drive this disruption, but to date mass take-up within some organisations has been held back by concerns of security, jurisdiction, network access and cost. These will be solved in the near future and costs will continue to reduce as the scale of the cloud service providers increases rapidly.

Within the next five years, it will be more cost effective to use the cloud than to provide IT infrastructure internally within an organisation and the other barriers to use will have fallen away.

What does this mean to the CIO and the IT department?  Those IT departments that have concentrated on the provision of IT infrastructure will significantly reduce in size, whilst simultaneously improving their service delivery. For the CIO, freed from the need to directly deliver and support IT infrastructure, there will be much more time available to identify the benefits that their organisation might gain from applying the IT services available from the cloud, to the improvement of the activities and services of the organisation itself. Those CIOs who are successful at this will be those who spend some of this time with their senior executives contributing to the overall strategic direction of their organisation.

There is emerging evidence to show that this is already occurring. A report from CA Technologies on the “Role of the CIO” describes the results of research amongst global CIOs. One of the most intriguing results was that approximately 93% of Australian CIOs, who have adopted cloud computing, see their position as an opportunity or stepping-stone to other management roles compared to only 30% of the non-cloud adopting CIOs surveyed. Other interesting results were that 57% of Australian CIO’s believe that cloud computing is shifting the focus of the CIO role away from primarily technology and onto vital business services increasing their chances of promotion and that 60% agree that cloud computing has enabled them to spend more time on business strategy and innovation.

Taken together these changes will transform and enhance the role of CIO in many organisations.

We will be exploring these ideas at the SEARCC 2017 Conference in Colombo from 13th to 15th September. I very much look forward to meeting you there and discussing these important issues. You can find more information about the conference at


Dr. Nick Tate MACS CP

President SEARCC


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