Are you looking to bust out of the traditional CIO straightjacket, and yet still exploit your IT expertise? The opportunity to do just that may be closer at hand than you think. In fact, looking ahead, we see multiple opportunities forming, that will both create new collaborative partners for CIOs, and also provide an opening for adventurous CIOs to stretch their wings, and take on new challenges, all the while building on their substantial knowledge base of intertwined technology and business skills. Every year, we take a hard look at how the driving forces of global business are changing the needs of organizations and the functional responsibilities of scores of executives. Based upon our discussions and research, we produce our annual list of executive hot jobs. For 2007, we expect the forces driving change in the business world at large - such as Google, China, convergence and more, - to both change the roles of many of the executives with whom the CIO must closely work, and to also offer the potential of creating new roles for these IT executives as well. Let's take a look at some of the key driving forces in the market today, and how CIOs might expect to be affected: Google's Content Crown Position: VP of Content Alliances Google may be the ultimate hot company to work for, but its influence on executive jobs extends well beyond its corporate campus. Consumers and businesses demand near- ubiquitous connectivity " meaning access to content anywhere, anytime. Google and others are monetizing this demand, but also critical, it is creating new forms of content and unforeseen alliances among content producers and those delivering content. For example, Google's purchase of YouTube was a defining moment in the sorting out of the convergence market. Brace yourselves: CIOs will be called on for their know-how in exploiting new alternatives in content delivery " whether for consumers downloading the latest movies to their TIVOs or B2B data transfer. Position: Unwired CTO Again, if business and consumers want connectivity anytime, anywhere, wireless technologies are key. In fact, wireless technologies are expanding exponentially and are now integrated into the most routine daily activities, such as wirelessly taking meal orders at your table in a restaurant. Businesses will require CIOs to collaborate with CTOs, supply chain managers, municipalities (municipal wireless), retail executives and others to make the most of wireless technology to increase efficiency, accuracy and reduce costs. Driving Force: Global production Position: VP, Global Visible Commerce Solutions In today's global market, trucks are assembled in Mexico from parts manufactured in Korea, and sold to a purchaser in Toronto for a price negotiated online. With their lifeblood dependent on a global supply chain, companies are demanding superior supply chain visibility. CIOs must work with supply chain executives to provide superior supply chain visibility from beginning to end. The most successful executions will create substantial competitive advantages for their companies, and demonstrate how IT contributes directly to the bottom line.
Driving Force: The battle between China and India
Position: Board member with China or India experience
Corporations continue to look offshore for additional talent and/or cost savings opportunities, and China and India continue to vie for preeminence as outsourcing locations. CIOs with experience setting up or operating IT shops in Bangalore or Beijing will be in demand as board members.
Driving Force: One to One Marketing
Position: VP of Marketing of Social Networking
When the first-ever amateur-produced commercial is broadcast in the 2007 Super Bowl, the mainstreaming of online social networking groups will be official. Sophisticated marketing executives are rushing to exploit the power of "friends asking friends" through popular channels such as YouTube, MySpace and FaceBook. CIOs will be on the spot to deliver reliable, scalable solutions to help their companies harness the power of viral marketing. (For more on this trend, see this month's features on customer-controlled innovation and demand-side innovation, and last month's article on the viability of virtual commerce.)
Driving Force: Security
Position: Chief Information Security Officer
Here is a wake up call for corporations: 98 million breached consumer records in 2006.. Enterprises are recognizing that in an increasingly web-enabled economy, strong security is a must. Further, companies are recognizing that security can be a brand asset if they are viewed as the trustworthy choice. CIOs must collaborate with CISOs to understand the ramifications of new technologies, and to keep the virtual work- and market place secure.
Position: Chief Continuity Officer
Resiliency planning is the brief of the CCO (in some companies, the Chief Security Officer.) CCOs are responsible for assuring the continuing operation of the company in the face of diverse threats, such as internal sabotage, terrorist activity, flu epidemics, or other regional emergencies.
Of course, no hot jobs list is complete without the inclusion of the CIO. In particular, the following types of positions continue to be among the most in demand:
Driving Force: Heat on the Street
Position: CIO, Large Financial Institutions
The financial services industry looks to CIOs for high-level analytical support and leadership in establishing a quality IT infrastructure. This information industry needs CIOs with an in-depth understanding of the business process in order to identify the implications of new technologies. Knowledge of hedge funds, investment managers, and broker/dealers, enables the CIO to provide strategic guidance.
For the CIO, the future of business is often implemented by the CIO. It's advisable then to keep the IT team up to speed, and to make sure IT's voice is heard in corporate decision making to gain support for these new functional responsibilities.
Umesh Ramakrishnan is vice chairman of executive search firm Christian & Timbers.