What does it take to be a 21st century CIO?

CIOs need to position themselves as the leading change agent in their organization taking on the role of chief innovation officer.

While it is impossible to predict the future, Bill Koff, vice president of CSC's Leading Edge Forum, said CIOs should be out on the edge finding ideas to bring into their business.

This may include changing the entire business operating model, but Koff said successful innovation demands patience, courage and well-honed political skills, not just insight.

Speaking at the CIO Magazine conference in Sydney this week, he referred to a forum paper titled, CEOs are from Mars, CIOs are from Pluto. “Many CIOs are seen as unsuccessful, and 40 percent could expect to be fired, not because they are failing to provide cost-effective IT, but because they don't contribute to business strategy, are unable to communicate with top executives and are ineffective as change agents,” Koff said.

Today's CIO is expected to add value to the business, he said, which means having insight and action in equal proportions and a propensity for change management.

On the technology front, Koff said the most disruptive technologies have taken place in communications.

“Wireless LANs and the disruptions with 3G are quite interesting. This is really a major disruption to the telcos, this whole 3G infrastructure," he said, adding that CIOs should also keep a keen eye on open source opportunities.

“Open source isn't just about Linux. The open source stack is enormous, and Linux is simply one piece,” Koff said.

“Open source will not replace commercial software in the next few years, but CIOs have to make educated decisions about where to apply open source and where to wait.”

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