The CIO role is here to stay, for a good many more years, feel Indian CIOs. The reaction was provoked after a recent UK poll claimed that 17 percent of corporate financial decision-makers believe the position of chief information officer will disappear from the business landscape in the next five years.

Are CIOs Doomed to Vanish into the Cloud? Many CFOs Think So

"The CIO is not a techie, he's a business strategist. But you still need someone who can make that strategic decision of what business can be automated, outsources and evaluate those solutions. The CFO will not understand this discussion, "believes Selvam K, group CIO of Siva Industries and Holdings.

He adds, "Maybe the CIO in future will not have an army of men under him, providing support and management that would've moved to the cloud. But the CIO role will not perish."

Generally, the reason for such dynamic predictions seems to involve the changing way businesses purchase and consume IT -- especially because of the increasing importance of utility-based and cloud computing, in which IT services are rented out on a pay-per-use model, rather than purchased and installed outright.

Manoj Arora, global CIO, Bilcare chuckles, "Manufacturing too can be rented, should we do away with role of chief operation officer? Lot of financial activities is also outsourced, but we still need a CFO. People who do strategic work, it doesn't matter what designation they hold."

Tamal Chakravorty, CIO, Ericsson, too vehemently defends the CIO role. "Business value comes from increased revenue, increased margins, increased customer satisfaction, increased employee satisfaction and finally improved perception by key management of the company. Can a share holder (majority one) say that a CIO does not impact any of these five parameters of increased share value? If they can then I guess the writing is on the wall. But I have spoken to many people around, and clearly do not see that sign."

CIO Role Will Eventually Cease to Exist, Claim CFOs

CIO's Financial Acumen

The survey highlighted that many CFO's believe the CIOs don't have adequate knowledge about finance. Indian CIOs dismiss this by saying knowledge of finance is not crucial to the role of the CIO. "I think the notion that we need to know finance, is a misconception. I have survived so have many other CIOs. We used basic tenets of running a business; investment to returns, cost control, efficiency, scale, understanding market etc. Should we then know sales management, operations research, logistics management, and treasury?" questions Chakravorty. Arora agrees. "CIO's are not busy purchasing IT. "

The changing CIO Role

The discussion highlights a more serious and pertinent discussion, about the evolution of the CIO role within the organization.

Satish Pendse, Group CIO of HCC group, who leads his own technology company Highbar technology however tends to agree to some extent with the statement. Having moved into a business role, he believes the CIO role is reaching a stagnation point. "After a few years, the learning in the CIO role tapers off," he says.

That said, CIOs agree that the business output comes ahead of designation and that revenue is more important than people and job roles. "If other c-level executives take more respobiblity into eh consumption of IT, the CIO can create more value in other place," believes Arora.

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WIll the CIO role cease to exist? CFOs sure seem to think so. WHat do you think?

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