Software is changing the role of chief information officers (CIOs), requiring them to use IT to drive, rather than simply support, a business, according to the CIO of Virgin Active.
Andy Caddy explained at Interop 2015 in London that the ability of modern software to replace the functions and capabilities of physical hardware means that CIOs no longer need to focus on maintaining systems or replacing legacy IT.
"Software has solved the problem," he said. "The idea that, once things are software they solve the problems and you don't have to look back, is really what's driving [change]."
Caddy added that software can be used to replace specialist hardware with virtual equivalents, and that cloud computing is nearing the stage when shifting traditional disk storage into the cloud is an easy process.
He said that CIOs currently procuring hardware are buying "instant legacy", as the systems can be replaced by software equivalents that solve problems faster than hardware goes out of date.
"We've finally arrived at a point where the technology that has transformed businesses just works. That's a really different place to where we were 10 years ago," he said.
"The ability to remove the complicated hardware of the past, the big mainframes, the big computer rooms, the complicated networks, once that's gone and you're left with just the software, businesses can go out and do their own thing."
Caddy noted that this is already happening and that increasing amounts of IT spending is in other enterprise departments, rather than being the domain of the IT team and CIO.
This is changing the CIO role, as those who concentrate on just maintaining and upgrading a company's technology move at a slower pace than the rest of the business, according to Caddy.
CIOs as leaders
This shift means that CIOs now need to build and buy technology that drives a company's business forward rather than looking after infrastructure.
Caddy said that this requires CIOs to adopt an agile approach to leadership, in which technology strategies are rapidly developed, scaled up and changed if needed.
"You need to be able to react, spot tends and change your organisational structure," he said, noting that long-term IT plans are no longer suitable for modern enterprises if they wish to make the most out of their IT departments.
He also noted that CIOs need to get more involved in building relationships with other areas of the business and communicating how technology can be used to drive change for the better.
"Changing systems is easy, changing people is more difficult," said Caddy, adding that modern CIOs need to be proficient in managing business change and the shift in relationships with different departments and technology vendors to which this can lead.
Caddy is well positioned to understand how the role of the CIO is changing and the way technology can be used to modernise how a company operates internally and expands externally.
Caddy recently spoke to V3 about how Virgin Active is using data from wearables to shape the company's technology future.
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