CIO Roundtable in Silicon Valley – A Collaborative Affair

November 24, 2010

On September 23rd, Harvey Nash and PA Consulting Group conducted a thoughtful executive-level learning and networking event in Silicon Valley. In lieu of our annual panel discussion, which features a handful of standout CIOs, we formulated an afternoon based on the direct input of local CIOs. This year’s event broke up the 54 CIO attendees into small groups of about eight to conduct roundtable discussions on the topics that were most pertinent to them. These included:

• Selling IT to the Business
• Becoming Indispensable to the Business
• Personal Networking for CIOs
• Cloud Computing
• Business Intelligence
• Social Networking for the Business
At the end of the roundtable discussions, we held a review session covering the key takeaways from all the topics discussed. At the end of the day, the new format afforded the audience an opportunity to meet and engage with their peers, and ensured every attendee had a chance to ask important questions and give advice.
For me, it was interesting to see which topics stirred the most heated debate and where people were in wholehearted agreement.
What topic did the groups agree on most readily?
• That the role of the CIO today is very different from the CIO of three years ago. According to attendees, CIOs today, more than ever, must embrace their role as a business leader. With strategic business objectives made starkly clear by the trimming back and streamlining of the recession, there is no longer room for CIOs who fancy themselves technologists first. Business goals and the bottom line are king, and today’s CIOs require thorough business goal and process understanding if they are to succeed.
What topics saw the most debate?
• SaaS – It seems like the ongoing debate of software as a services is… ongoing. While some IT leaders felt that it is now going mainstream, others felt there were still many unresolved issues about its provision and the widespread usage remains far off. Specific SaaS challenges for some CIO attendees included the ability to maintain control and security.
• Business Intelligence (BI) – Though BI systems and services are widespread, CIOs were mixed on their true efficiency. Some feel that despite sophisticated BI tools and functionality, businesses were gaining minimal strategic value. Most agreed that the intelligence gained from BI solutions needed to be more strategically integrated into IT and business operations.
Are these topics top of mind within your IT organization or across your network of IT peers? Do you have strong opinions on the changing role of the CIO, the expansion of SaaS or the effectiveness of BI solutions? If so, I invite you to share them with me at Let’s keep the debate going.