Is the role of CIO still essential to business?

Kantar CIO Matt Graham Hyde
Kantar CIO Matt Graham Hyde

Is the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) under threat, or merely evolving? Factors such as the rise of cloud computing and shifting budgeting responsibilities to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) have been cited as two factors casting uncertainty over the position's future.

However, the role of the CIO is far from over, according to Kantar CIO Matt Graham-Hyde, who clears up misconceptions around the topic in his book 'The Essential CIO'. TechRadar Pro caught up with the author to discuss the changing nature of the role, the myths surrounding its demise and what the typical day of a modern-day CIO involves.

TechRadarPro: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Matt Graham-Hyde: I am currently Chief Information Officer for Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP and a leading insights and consultancy group.

As CIO, I am responsible for the technology strategy and execution across the 100 countries where Kantar's 28,500 employees work on behalf of the majority of Fortune 500 companies.

I have had various CIO roles over the last 15 years in major international businesses. Prior to joining Kantar, I was chief information officer at United Business Media, the global publishing and events business, and technology director at United Broadcasting and Entertainment during the early transition to digital in broadcasting in the UK.

I founded and operated for several years a technology consultancy specialising in re-engineering IT in mergers and acquisitions. I was born in London, and have travelled and worked extensively around the globe.

TRP: What does your typical day involve?

MGH: I am not sure what a typical day is. If I am in London I would usually be in the office for around 7:30 as it's quiet here, but still time to keep things connected in Asia.

The days are a constant juggling act of keeping the day-to-day moving forward and running smoothly, while pushing strategy and strategic initiatives. Asia global organisation, even though I will leave the office around 18:30, there is still a lot going on in the Americas.

Most days are filled with meetings and calls. Emails and reports tend to get done outside of the traditional core hours.

I like to get to a couple of aerobics or circuit classes a week, these are a great way of both staying fit and giving a break from the work pressures.

TRP: What's your book 'The Essential CIO' about?

MGH: The core premise is that Amazon and Google have changed the way we do business forever with the cloud. That change is so fundamental that we must change our company's ideas, perceptions and behaviours to survive as businesses.

This is a technology driven change, and there is a fundamental reinvention of information technology taking place being driven by cloud computing, mobile devices, social media and data analytics.

I believe this change cycle is different and groundbreaking. There have been many previous change cycles in IT but they have been incremental evolutionary changes. In the book, I explore the changes we are seeing, that make me question the foundational principles of information technology in business, and the need to either find, or invent a new blueprint for the business of corporate IT.

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TRP: What were your motivations for writing your book 'The Essential CIO'?

MGH: There have been a lot of articles and books about the limited career of the CIO and renaming the role to Career Is Over. However, while there is a need for transformational change, I don't believe the role of the CIO is over, quite the opposite.

There are a lot of books and papers written by people who aren't currently in a CIO role preaching about what the role and the changes to the role should be. I believe in walking in someone's shoes before you start telling them what to do. As I hadn't found a book written by a working CIO, trying to deal with the real job challenges created by the technical revolution taking place; I thought it might be useful if someone did, so why not me?

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.