I was reflecting with a colleague last week that I recently passed a work anniversary; eleven years as CIO at the same company. As we conversed, it struck me that the conversation and topics at CIO or senior IT leadership events had changed dramatically over that span of time. In 2007, typical meetings and seminars at events might have been; "Is IT relevant?", "How to Engage with the Business", "How to Get a Seat at the Table", and perhaps my favorite, "Will there be CIO's in the Future." If you listened to the research agencies and councils, most CEO's and other executives, if they thought about IT, didn't think much of it. While this continued for a while (2007 coincidentally bringing the introduction of the iPhone), the rise of digitally enabled forces like mobile were causing the disruption of entire business models. The easy access to external cloud services fueled the next level of angst and predictions; "50% of all IT spending will be outside the IT budget", "How do you control/stop/take advantage of Shadow IT" or "Get close to your Marketing Officer, they'll have all of the budget." But at the same time, there were indications that thinking was changing. The same research was showing that as businesses got Kodak'd (entire business models digitally disrupted), the awareness of the criticality of IT was climbing. Still, though, the cautions were rampant about the rise of CDO's (the "D" being either Digital, Data or both) who would dilute the influence of the CIO, and advice was to not get caught with the plumbing. Around the same time, Security moved from a few prescient professionals shouting into the wilderness before the Target breach to the constant drumbeat it is today. In addition, the bills started to come due for all of the outside services, and it was evident that they couldn't connect to anything you already had.
In 2016, a survey by Lloyds of London showed the number one risk perceived by Global CEO's was Cyber risk - and they didn't mean just security. Diving into the numbers, they were not only worried about Security, but their businesses being digitally disrupted, and they were talking to their CIO's more than ever. This leads to today, where the percentage of CIO's reporting to the CEO has never been higher, and it's rising each year. That we have numerous examples of CIO's that have moved on to COO and CEO. That there's no end to pace of change and technologies that could disrupt our business models and companies. So, my conclusion is: There's never been a better time to be in Technology, and never have we as senior IT leadership had more opportunity to add value. Today, very few are worried about a seat at the table; it's more likely IT leadership is getting asked first, because you simply can't get compete effectively without an effective strategy, and all business strategies have an IT component.
Which brings me to my main point: if you're getting this, you're already part of the best IT community to share great ideas, successes and challenges. Don't just be a member, get out to events and hear how your peers are dealing with the forces shaping the business of the future; and just maybe take something back that drives value for your company.