Those young ones walking around with their heads buried in their smartphones and tablets? As in everybody in the up-and-coming business generation?

They'll render the chief information officer (CIO) role obsolete, the leader of an enterprise analytics software and solutions company told CMSWire.

"What was a CIO in the past?" asked ClickFox CEO Marco Pacelli. "A creator and an innovator who made information available to the business faster and more accurately. Well, now that is over, and an entire generation of extremely tech smart kids have grown up."

Yes, them. They may not be getting as much fresh air as their preceding business generations, but they are immersed in technology, almost by default.

"They are used to constant change, the next best thing and having all the information they want at their fingertips," Pacelli said. "The CIO is falling behind and can’t keep up with the demand. It will be all about the data."

Next Frontier: CAO and CDO 

social business, Goodbye CIO? Why the Role May Ultimately Disappear

In fact, Pacelli sees the role of the CIO ultimately morphing into the "CAO" or "CDO": Chief Analytic Officer or Chief Data Officer.

Remember the days when CIOs used to be the "smart folks" in the building? The ones, as Pacelli recalled, who could "make the magic happen through technology?" They're not the only ones, anymore.

"Now, fortunately or unfortunately, there are more tech savvy, expert business people than ever before," Pacelli said. "Anyone and everyone grew up with technology at their fingertips in the past 15 to 20 years. Therefore CIOs have been left with making sure nothing breaks while the business units are off building their own tools."

Today's up-and-coming business professionals just need a little data, and they can practically build their own applications on any device, Pacelli noted. Therefore, the role of the CAO or CDO will replace the classic CIO.

"These individuals will be the smartest," he said. "They will be the ones who see things in the data that the enterprise depends upon which no one else sees. There are too many technology smart young people now. This has made the CIO role less critical than it once was."

Learning Opportunities

Information Architects

Today's businesses include "information architects," those who create data clouds. Before, businesses needed technical people to put data in the database along with definitions so that the business could understand the data.

"As data became more accessible and readily available, the data scientists emerged as the technical experts," Pacelli said. "They helped place data into models so that the business could quickly access it and build applications without really having to understand its schemes and definitions."

Enter the architects, who have both the infrastructure knowledge and data expertise to know what makes sense where.

"They are the ones making it possible," Pacelli said, "for the business to be fast, independent and agile in order to be competitive."


This relationship has been endorsed,  challenged and analyzed a good deal the last few months. Should the CIO report to the CMO? "Perhaps the CIO/CMO role becomes one," Pacelli said. "That’s more where I see the industry headed, and maybe the CAO becomes more important than both roles combined."

Who's driving technology decisions today: CMO or CIO? Pacelli said it depends. In the lights-on and infrastructure world, it's the CIO. In the innovation, new concepts, applications and data usage, it’s the business, the ones who own the profit & loss statements of their business, not even the CMOs. 

"Business owners have become the most powerful owners of technology," he said. "They can’t wait for anyone else any longer." 

Title image by joyfull (Shutterstock).