Hey, CIOs: In a BYOD world, your new job is service provider

With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, CIOs don’t have nearly as much control as they used to. But that lack of control can actually be seen as a positive, panelists said at Structure:Europe 2013 on Thursday.

“This panel is about control and the fact that we don’t have it anymore, working in IT,” said moderator Jon Collins, an analyst at Inter Orbis and GigaOM Research.

There are two types of CIOs nowadays, said Simon Short, CTO and head of digital at Capgemini: “The ones that are still fighting the battle…and a different type” who think the job is “about enablement…If you enable, then you also retain control because you’re seen as a service provider.”

According to Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, “The idea that people are going to give up the freedom they have with the smartphone — I think that battle is completely lost.”   Instead of “retrenching,” though, CIOs need to “define what’s useful and what’s critical for [them] to control.” He agreed with Short: The new role of the CIO is “almost like a mini service provider.”

Finnie said that BYOD workplaces provide an opportunity for CIOs. They can “embrace” the technology and then, in turn, “try and take back the data. The CIO’s got to give a little, and then in return [gets to] control this critical piece.”

“I think this is actually the most interesting moment for a CIO,” said Short, “actually becoming the board member that’s enabling the company to do what [it wants] to do.” And, he said, CIOs should see themselves as “the digital equivalent of the CEO.”

Check out the rest of our Structure:Europe 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page