CIOs “heading towards extinction”

Role of CIOs questioned at roundtable, industry moving towards consumerisation say experts

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.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Madhav Bodas

I think there may be some truth in what Arun Tewary has said. These days, IT is all pervasive. Barring some of the SMEs, most companies are using technology to deliver value to their customers.
The world has come quite far from the early era of ERPs, CRMs, SCMs and BIs. Those days, there used to be a need felt for a profile that could understand Business processes and customise a cost effective solution and also, convince the top managment and the Business managers of why spend and how it will improve efficiencies.
Also, this is an era where large business houses outsource their IT, thereby reducing the role of a CIO to that of managing the SLAs. Mr Arun Tewary may be right in pointing out that role of a CIO has got to be redefined in the new context.

Posted by: Dr. Husam Yaghi

I can't believe those so called CIOs who had attended the referenced meeting had to justify or define their roles every so often. Obviously they do not fit the title, rather they are just traditional IT managers. CIOs drive the business with their useful automation tools, assess the relative impact of emerging technology to strategic business needs and interpret their meaning to the organization?s senior leadership team. CIOs are leaders not managers. They face reality and drive change. Hey, my role is well defined and my seat is well protected, so I don't see why others can't do the same! It's obvious that those CIOs have to work on their skills before they may expect others to respect them and give them the desired attention.

Posted by: Kohinoor

Well said. Board will be waiting for your voice, if the voice reflected well in your first yeare P&L. End of the day, profit matters. As he sounds, it is other way around.

Posted by: kamil

Chief Information Officer - they should have put that in and not assume everyone knows it.

Posted by: Omar

A rather negative and self defeatist attitude I think. I have used a company Blackberry and an iPhone. Perhaps the Blackberry is more secure in the corporate environment...a plus for the company, but the iPhone beats it hands down in terms of the user experience. The user will want to use whatever works best for him. It is the job of the IT leader to ensure that what is used meets the needs of both the user and the organisation. I don't understand how this puts the future of CIO's in jeopardy. There is also far more issues in the corporate IT world than which smart phone to use.

Posted by: Baber Khan

:D who made him CIO and VP :p I am wondering why he think CIOs heading towards extinction.. No way.. We need more CIOs in future as technology is going deep inside every single device and all devices are becoming smart. CIOs role going to be more broader then now. Currently cloud services going to remove hardware from organizations but still someone have to administrate those applications and services the same way.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Why the Qatar hacking incident has revived Gulf tensions

Why the Qatar hacking incident has revived Gulf tensions

Analysts say the incident was far more than a security breach...

The cost of cloud seeding in the UAE

The cost of cloud seeding in the UAE

As the country ramps up efforts to increase artificial rainfall...

Inside Google's brave new world

Inside Google's brave new world

The $500bn technology giant is extending its reach into hardware...

Most Discussed