CIO Summit: IT departments must become more creative

The IT department needs to reinvent itself as a creative function that plays a core role in the business, said Derek Gannon, COO at the Guardian Media Group.

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The IT department needs to reinvent itself as a creative function that plays a core role in the business, said Derek Gannon, COO at the Guardian Media Group.

Speaking at the first-ever CIO Summit in London today, Gannon said he aimed to challenge the traditional assumptions about the future role of the CIO as being solely business-focused, as the influence of consumers on businesses grows. 

“Every part of the business will need technology. You [as a CIO] will have to stop thinking about technology as the day job. You have to think of it as a function – that it is there as a creative department, there to create ideas, products and services for our consumers,” he said.

“It will no longer be tenable to leave thinking about the consumers to the marketing department.”

Gannon believes that CIOs need to stop thinking about IT as a cost-cutting function, but rather consider how IT can contribute to an organisation’s revenue growth.

“You can leave the cost cutting to the CFO,” he said. “You must become part of revenue growth.”

As well as being creative, Gannon said that CIOs need to become data analysts, to understand what data, that is, consumer data, means to their business. They can then use these skills to influence their business.

Gannon summarised his views in a new “mantra” he believed CIOs should adopt.

“Incept, start, grow and embed,” he said. “Inception of the idea, start new businesses and new business models, grow revenues and embed into the culture of your organisation.”

The launch of the first paid-for news application for the iPhone from the Guardian is perhaps an example of Gannon delivering this mantra for his own organisation. 

Despite these changing aspects of the IT leader, Gannon insisted that it was not necessarily the end of the road for CIOs.

“I honestly don’t believe the role of the CIO is dead. I think it needs to be understood more and taken into the core of the business. My argument is that CIOs have to change, and more importantly the business has to change, and the CIOs have to be at the core of that change.” 

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