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Will CIOs morph into CFOs?

Not as head of finance, but as 'chief flexibility officer'.

In three to five years, the CIO title will change into CFO. No, not as head of finance, but ‘chief flexibility officer’.

“There is so much happening in many dimensions, you really have to build an organisation that is as flexible as hell,” says VC Gopalratnam, vice president, information technology, Cisco.

“You have got to build an organisation that can react very quickly,” explains Gopalratnam at a panel discussion on ‘what CIOs want’ at the Cisco Live Conference in Melbourne. “You have got to find ‘athletes’ in your organisation - who are nimble and react quickly and are fast learners.”

Another panelist, Matthew Maw, CTO at, says that in five years, he will also be performing the role of “chief legal officer”.

“A lot of what my role will be is managing service contracts, managing SLAs for third parties,” says Maw, whose organisation runs lotteries and sports betting services in Australia. “It is a skill set we will all evolve into.”

Ross Forgione, CIO for international law firm Johnson Winter Slattery (JWS) says being a “fantastic negotiator” will be a key skill for CIOs.

The need for skills data management and analysis also cropped up during the discussion.

Gopalratnam says organisations are fixing the quality of data before embarking on a data extraction program. He says this is why the task is a function of both business and technology.

“We need that real time, heavy duty computing skills to make sense of this data,” he states. He says skills needed for this include predictive forecasting skills and sentiment analysis. “It is a fairly complicated scenario.”

“It is about the volume variety and velocity of data, that is what scares everybody. This is the area that brings all the technology levers into place – video, cloud, mobility, all of them generate different kinds of data.”

Data quality and integrity are important. “If the foundation is bad you are making informed decisions on avery weak base,” says Gopalratnam.

Organisations are generating tonnes and tonnes of data from internal sources, external groups and social media, and have to make sense out of it, he says.

It comes down to answering this simple question for the business, “so what”?


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