The Economist has just published a truly remarkable survey on technology. Its remarkable for several reasons, the first is that the Economist believes that attitudes to technology is a topic that it should get involved in, and second for what it found about the way CxO level executives, other than the CFO / CIO pairing, thought about the role new technology would be playing in their business.

In a mass of details two things really stick out, and, made me wonder exactly what the CxO community know that the CIO community doesn’t. Exactly why do more than 60% of the CxOs think that new technology will have a significant positive impact on their business, whilst only around 30% of CIOs think this? Oh, and by the way, why do nearly a third of CxOs and CIOs agree with the statement that within 5 years central IT departments will have ceased to exist?
On the face of it this is a massive vote of no confidence in the future of IT professionals from both sides, or is it just an acknowledgement that IT is becoming ubiquitous to business, therefore the delivery of IT will be synonymous with the business people leading to a new level of effectiveness?
I actually think it’s a positive vote, it’s of the same order of the departure of the data centre manager with the shift to PCs, and the consequential level of change in the impact computing had on the business. A change that it’s worth remembering happened only 15 years ago, and before which the titles CIO and IT didn’t exist.
The result was not in any way to lessen the value, role or even amount of computing used, but was in fact to increase all aspects and make computing ubiquitous to a business. I think these figures are merely an acknowledgement that this process is happening again, and therefore roles are changing. Traditional IT will only be a part of the new model, as data centre mainframes became, so those locked to this model are wary of the future, whilst those not part of the current IT model are freer to appreciate the potential of the change.
Or do they (the CxO level executives) really know something that we (the technologists) don’t?
Great expectations: The changing role of IT in the business is the first in a series of reports from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Technology Forum, a research programme targeted at senior executives responsible for managing and deploying information technology in the pursuit of business objectives.