The CIO could be gone in 5 years: Good news for Apple in business?

“A recent study of finance chiefs at over 200 companies revealed that one in six expect the job of CIO to be gone within five years. More than twice that many (40%) expected that IT will eventually be folded into the finance department,” Ryan Faas reports for Cult of Mac. “This highlights the impact of trends like BYOD, the consumerization of IT, and the growing importance of cloud services.”

“As IT departments struggle to deal with an ever-increasing influx of iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and other ‘consumer’ technologies, this raises big questions,” Faas reports. “Would handing management of IT over to a CFO with limited technical experience help or hinder Apple’s position as a business vendor? Would that drive BYOD programs or inhibit them? Would this ultimately be beneficial to most employees at a company?”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

31 Comments

  1. Someone’s ignorant pipe dream.

    Handing over IT to bean counters is about the worst of all possible scenarios. That kind of ignorance, if implemented, would last until the first big fine for a security breach.

    1. Completely agree. Has the author ever heard of a server?

      For those who’ve never been in IT, that’s what they spend most of their time on, not fixing the printer.

      1. If the servers are so delicate that they have to have a department head standing by them perhaps you can see why a company would get rid of the position and the equipment and farm it out to a cloud service.

        My limited experience with IT has shown that they are generally self important and put up obstacles to any innovation that may make the job of information production as difficult as possible. Why is it that the terms IT and doofus go together so well in everyone’s minds?

        Yes, the time is coming when workers will not have the yoke of IT getting in the way of productivity and innovation. WinXP will become a thing of the past and PC/server crashes will be an ancient myth.

        1. Have you ever been at a school where the football coach is also the IT guy?

          VPN access, user account management, security, information management, service integration, all tech planning.

          Those are pretty broad, but that’s just some of what IT does. I’m not even talking about people; you have to know how computers work. There’s so much that goes into IT that users (and the author of this article) will never know or care about. Also, if all tech goes to the cloud, which just a fancy way of saying, “someone else’s server,” the cloud provider will need TONS of IT people to manage those machines.

          The back-end server room is one place where MS still has a strong foothold. Apple’s innovation and UI ideas could mop the floor with them if they wanted to. (Xserve management was much better than Dell’s hard to install/use openmanage) iPhone dev is amazing; imagine an Apple-backed RAD language that could replace C#/asp.net, and Apple-backed database to replace SQL Server. That would be great, but that’s not what Apple does.

          1. Yes, My brother is the School’s Head coach, Biology Teacher, and IT department. It’s a small high school in Iowa.

            He gets $35,000.00 a year as a teacher. $18,500.00 a year for coaching and $1,500.00 a year for IT.

            He sets up the computer labs. Maintains the servers, and the website. Orders new computers and software each year. Resets passwords and replaces keyboard keys daily.

            Two of his teams went to State last year.

      1. Yes!

        Need light? Well get yourself down to IKEA because Facilities has been eliminated, its Bring Your Own Lamp time!

        No longer will you be held back by some bean counter who gives you the same desk and chair as everyone else! You can lug your own desk and chair into the building!

        Can you feel the freedom rising up? Can you hear the screams of joy?

        I can smell it… and it smells like shit.

  2. Makes me glad I’m no longer a servant of some corporate master. No surprise that CFOs have delusions of grandeur. Finance wants to control everything, even that which they don’t understand. Their job is to raise capital for the business, not to run every aspect of it.

  3. If you hand IT responsibilities to a doofus CFO, all you’ll end up with will be the lowest common denominator, and it won’t be Apple. All the CFO is interested in is the bottom line. A typical CFO knows as much about computing as a gnat does about eating horseflesh. If a CFO made IT driven decisions, all you’ll end up with are thin client PCs running Citrix off a server which will be the cheapest implementation of a PC. These guys don’t care about the user experience. The only beneficiaries will be PCs running Google’s Chrome OS.

  4. Based on the fact that the question was directed to finance weenies and possibly CFO’s who may already have senior IT management working closely to them or under them, I would think that the judgement would swing to eliminate CIOs. I could see this happening to small and medium sized businesses, but large enterprises might be a different story.

    1. It is also possible that Finance chiefs have as much of a sense of humor as I do. Given the survey, I would have said, I expect Finance to be outsourced to the cloud and that the position of Finance chief was a thing of the past.

  5. Imagine this scenario:
    Company X is being sued for damages because of a security breach on their network/hardware. Imagine the look on faces as the lawyers of the complainant sit down pre-trial & find out Company X is running IT out of the bean counter’s office.

    One of the biggest eff ups in American business is the bean counter mentality and the deference paid to the CFO.

  6. Well, what goes around…I’ve been in the IT biz long enough to remember that “IT” originally CAME from the Finance dept. 35 yrs ago it was called “MIS” (Mgmt Informations Systems), and it was under finance in part because that’s where the company’s IBM mainframe lived.

    IOW, the MIS function revolved around the corporate acct systems (AR, AP, Gl, blah blah). Contrast that with today, where the internet has so permeated the functions of an organization that its blurred the traditional distinctions between “front-office” vs. “back-office”. Think of a company’s extranet website: its more than a portal to the biz systems: its the public face of the company itself.

    IT as it’s thought of today forms the basic fabric of an organization. It seems ridiculous to shove it BACK under the narrower concerns of the Finance dept and ignore all the good reasons for treating it as a separate strategic function in the first place.

    1. This “study” is little more than self-serving wishful thinking on the part of these finance folks. Of *course* the bean-counters want to extend their fiefdoms within their companies. How is this news, exactly?

    2. At one of my largest clients IT was scaled down, but finance was completely outsourced. Any department perceived as being a service to the business rather than the customers is just as likely to be disbanded as any other.

  7. I guess i should just quit them. but before i go i will call my CFO and tell her all the tickets she has open will be assigned to her by my tech staff. I am sure she will be happy about that.

  8. Well, it seems to me that many posters here haven’t even attempted to look at this realistically. I can understand (being in IT for the past almost 20 years) how we would instinctively see this as an idiotic idea. But after a bit of thought, it is clear to me that the trend is unstoppable.

    Large enterprises will of course continue to develop and deploy their own internal infrastructure. But even among them, there is no doubt that the lure of outsourcing is extremely difficult to resist. My organisation has already outsourced the entire data centre. Rather than taking up an entire floor of a Manhattan office building (complete with its own uninterrupted power supply, climate control, raised floors and dozens of engineers in three shifts), the data centre is now across the Hudson, in New Jersey, costs less, provides better global connectivity, more reliable support and maintenance and vacates an entire floor of extremely expensive Manhattan real estate. The whole IT service lost some 15% of staff who used to babysit all those servers. Right now, in-house developers are still there, but there is no reason even those couldn’t get hired for projects outside the house (New Jersey, or New Delhi).

    There was a time when LAN was the only way to connect computing devices together securely. That time has long passed. With extremely robust and redundant public networks (the internet), there is no difference whether the data centre is on the 49th floor or in Geneva, Switzerland (actually, our mainframe has been located in Geneva for the past 15 years).

    If all of your IT operations were PROPERLY outsourced, the guy who manages them certainly cannot hope to call himself a CIO. And his importance certainly can’t be that high for him to report directly to the CEO.

    It’s happening, boys, and you’ll need to get yourself ready for it.

    1. … jobs, IT was in charge of desktop computers (talk about CLOWNS), the company servers, and the company web sites. My small group – a handful – was in charge of batch processing and helping keep the web sites updated. You want the CFO to do that? Not THAT CFO, that’s for certain. At another job, the servers were in several states and a couple of countries … IT kept them all running. Would you expect your typical CFO to understand the roles of the different OSs, the need for 99.9% (+) uptime, the need to pay maintenance contracts ON TIME, and all the rest? Sorry. None of those I’ve known. They were happy to see the backside of a lot of time-sensitive work.

      1. The primary point of this article (and my message) is that all of this will be outsourced, and all that outsourcing will be done by the companies that specialise in this, and can do it better, more efficiently and less expensively than if you were to do it in-house.

        An IT department has one primary goal (and it ain’t the actual business of the company): self-preservation and growth. They generally DON’T really care what is the actual product or service that the company makes; they are there to primarily protect their IT turf (seen it too many times to ignore as a possible fluke in a crap company). In the outsourced model,a CFO will manage an IT chief, who will be responsible for managing all these outsourced contracts. Cheaper, better, cleaner, leaner, more efficient. The outsourced company’s primary product is the IT service, so their goal is essentially perfectly aligned with the self-preservation drive that IT people tend to have.

        1. Two spot on posts.
          I would also add that, to all extent and purposes, the CIO position has already ‘become’ a bean counter’s role in large companies, managing the spending allocation rather than machines and filling Excel docs, not coding or swapping drives. So it’s just another layer of management you don’t need to pay top dollar wages for…just subsume those duties into the finance office and manage the IT dept from there. It’s a trend that has been around for a few years and now gaining ground.

        2. Predrag I totally agree with your perspective and I’m pretty much that guy, that IT guy. Onsite systems have been slowly migrating to cloud services. Even finance and HR systems have been shifting, (ADP Totalsource for example). The CIO position is being marginalized or downgraded to a position of less significance. CFOs will begin to utilize IT managers to provide support for desktop and mobile systems within the organization and any coordination of support for network infrastructure supporting access to could services. The thought of losing the CIO is past tense for SMB’s looking to cut cost and improve access to organizational content. CIO’s in the enterprise should begin looking make the leap from CIO to COO if the opportunity arises.

    2. I still say not likely. I can very easily see a drastically smaller IT department, but reporting into the CFO makes absolutely no sense. There will still be a lead technology guy. And if I were the CEO, I would not want that person obfuscated by having him report to the CFO. Ask a CFO if your organization’s info structure is “future proof.” He won’t know. The rule of thumb is if you have a significant portion of the organization reporting into an individual who cannot comprehend what it does, you need to break it out into a new department. This his how CIOs came to be.

      If all your IT operations are outsourced, properly or not, the guy that heads technology for the organization is still is a world so terribly different than finance, it makes as much since to put everything else under finance as well. If anything the COO would be a better fit.

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