Five actions for CIOs so BYOD doesn’t render them powerless

by Sharon Lobo    May 15, 2013

Five actions for CIOs

In a previous article, “Will CIOs ever earn a seat at the business table”, we had explained how tech-savvy CEOs are expecting more from their CIOs, and will not hesitate to take control of IT themselves if expectations are not met. Although this situation wasn’t alarming enough, there is a trend brewing in the CIO’s own backyard, which promises to give them sleepless nights.

As the age of locked-down IT systems disappears rapidly, and more employees choose to use their own devices and applications for business purposes, the total control of technology by IT continues to fade away. As a result it is imperative that CIOs move beyond their traditional role of managing IT and embrace the role of an enterprise architect (EA). In developed markets, an EA reports to a CIO. However in this part of the world the CIO also doubles up as the enterprise architect.

So what makes an EA so special? In a blog post, George Colony, CEO, Forrester Research explains, “Techies invariably screw up the business; business guys screw up the tech. For years (actually, decades) we’ve looked for someone to span both — and that’s what Enterprise Architects do.”

Colony further explains how the role of EAs has gained traction in the last decade and how they can ensure an organizations strategies do not move on spaghetti roads but on logical, straight highways.

So how can CIOs ensure that BYOD doesn’t render them powerless? Marcus Blosch, Research VP at Gartner, identifies five action points for EAs, whereby CIOs can harness the disruptive force of consumerization to deliver tangible business outcomes.

Enterprise architects can harness the disruptive force of consumerization to deliver tangible business outcomes through enterprise architecture.
-Marcus Blosch, Research VP, Gartner

1. Get out in front of the business – Harness the employee interest in consumer devices and applications, using it as a hook to engage with the business to brainstorm and create and offer solutions around collaboration, sourcing, distribution, marketing, support, incentivization and other areas.

2. Offer advice on technologies and trends - Identify and prepare for key technology trends that will impact the business e.g. bring your own program and LTE. Faced with the proliferation of devices in the enterprise offer technology road maps to the business, suggesting when and how key technologies should be adopted. Use this activity to champion the use of strategic technologies like the increasing use of HTML5 to ensure that core applications function well across a range of devices without need for extensive modification.

3. Architect for consumerization – License/authenticate people not devices: become endpoint independent and standardize on data formats, not applications or tools. Additionally, move the data away from devices and into the cloud, protect it well. And most importantly stop trying to control things they don’t own.

4. Lay the foundations - Be clear on the business outcomes that need to be achieved and the architectural features needed to achieve it. Endpoint or device independence is going to be increasingly important to effectively achieve core business outcomes in an environment that is increasingly consumerized.

5. Provide project-specific advice - Be a valued source of knowledge around specific projects, offering sanity checking and examples of similar projects and their successes and failure. Offer problem solving while providing expertise on risk management and recommended architectures and approaches.