I read with horror in the latest edition of the Harvard Business Review of the ascendency of the Chief Marketing Technologist. And it’s not just the ascendency that is a shocker but the extent to which they apparently already populate the world’s leading firms.
Next up we will no doubt read about the Chief Talent Technologist, Chief Sales Technologist, Chief Catering Technologist and so on, whose roles are to act as ‘bridgers’ between the IT department and the business functions.
But there are a couple of realities that will scupper this quasi-digital view of organisations. Firstly IT is becoming a non-issue. There are no actual consumers of IT services only consumers of business services. So this will ultimately turn the IT function into a service-consumer dating agency.
Secondly the value in having a CIO was never about the technology it was and is (or should be) about extracting insight from data. Admittedly when your data pool resided on your own mainframe computer it made some sense to ask the CIO to manage that device. But through poor boardroom understanding of both data-driven insight and technology, the CIO role morphed into one of IT management.
These leadership roles du jour including that of Chief Digital Officer are simply a sticking plaster solution applied to the chronic problem of boardroom digital (in its traditional sense) illiteracy.
HBR by promoting such pop-up CxO roles to get around the discomfort of digital illiteracy and the CIO really being an IT manager is simply promoting organisational dysfunctionality.