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The New CIO Role: IoT Driven Product Designer

The role of today’s Chief Information Officer is only becoming more complex. In 2013, some believe that the role of Enterprise IT was rapidly becoming obsolete (we disagreed) due to technologies like Infrastructure-as-a-Services and Software-as-a-Service.  Based on the challenges our customers are facing, we believe that the role of the CIO is more important than ever.  However, how the CIO is adding the most value to an organization continues to change.

As part of the data center and information and communications technology industry, something that has always been amazing for us to witness is the justification process that our customers have had to undertake to invest in new critical infrastructure.  In many traditional enterprises, data centers were seen as a cost center only.  The exorbitant cost of data center downtime is widely reported (an estimated $690,200 per incident in 2013), but it has always been difficult for CIOs to justify additional expense in critical data center and IT infrastructure, even as they watched substantial investment being made in Product R&D, manufacturing automation, and other areas.  After a recent data center project was delayed for one of our customers, the CIO told me that their company “spent more renovating their office lobby than they would have upgrading their data center.”

The positive news is that the role of a CIO’s critical infrastructure – data center and information and communications technology systems – is shifting from cost center to revenue generator.  As organizations begin to determine how to commercialize the Internet of Things and mobile, connected devices, the need for CIO leadership, innovation, and expertise is critical.

The benefit of the Internet of Things for organizations is that it enables the ongoing collection of valuable data that can be analyzed and leveraged to better serve customers.  Aside from the need for the CIO’s leadership in how to best analyze and effectively use all of the data gathered, smart organizations will see the need for a new CIO responsibility: Product Designer.

Most would consider including Internet-of-Things enabled, “connected” functionality into today’s products a baseline requirement.  However, organizations that leverage CIO expertise in the product design lifecycle will be the ones that can do something impactful with the data that is collected from the device.  Involving the CIO in the design process helps ensure interoperability – that their IT organization has the technology, resources, and expertise to transform that data into something meaningful and drive revenue as a result.

We see the role of the CIO evolving rapidly.  The organizations that integrate the CIO’s leadership throughout departments and functions that were not traditionally integrated with IT are the ones that will be best positioned to capitalize on the Internet-of-Things revolution.