The CIO's role in business is stuttering towards irrelevance, according to the IT boss of one large regional enterprise.
At a roundtable held jointly by Arabian Computer News and Network Middle East today, Arun Tewary, CIO and VP of information systems at Emirates Flight Catering, claimed that the CIO was the only function "where every morning when we get up, we have to define our role".
"CIOs as a species have fallen into a category which is moving towards extinction, so we need to be protected, like wildlife," he told delegates at ITP's ‘Future of the CIO' event, held over breakfast at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Tewary blamed part of this shift on trends such as the consumerisation of the IT department. "The whole industry is moving towards consumerisation, and the moment that picks up, we will not be required," he lamented.
At one point, Tewary contrasted the responsibilities of the CIO - which attendees identified as a mix of process, management and technology - with those of other c-level executives in the enterprise. "The CFO does not need to keep justifying and defining his role every day - it's very defined and there's no argument and no dispute. CMO? The same, absolutely no problem," observed Tewary.
Tewary also disputed the assertion that a CIO's career objective should be to secure a seat on the board, arguing that even when they did, they may not necessarily have much of a say in the running the business. "There might be organisations where CIOs have got into the boardroom, but I would be interested to know what is the percentage of such organisations," he continued. "They might have a physical chair [in the boardroom], but does the CIO have a voice in the boardroom? I'm not very sure."
Other attendees at the round table included CIOs and IT directors from well-known regional organisations in sectors including finance, logistics, education and industry. Topics discussed included how the role of the CIO has changed in the wake of global recession and the impact of cloud computing.