UPDATED 16:05 EDT / MAY 06 2013

CIOs Need to Transform IT or Be Left Behind #emcworld

Business leaders want instant gratification, they want IT services that will transform their businesses, not more data centers filled with IT systems that may provide benefit in two years, says Vic Bhagat, the new CIO of EMC, in the Cube at EMC World 2013. CIOs need to stop being chief information officers and become chief innovation officers. CIOs and IT organizations that stay focused on the old way of doing things, on how many data centers they run, will be left behind, he warns.

“The money is being spent on forward-looking IT, not on data centers. It is spent on transformation of the business and how IT will enable that. That is what the C-level executives are focused on. They will give you money if you help them accelerate their business. If I keep focusing on my archaic data center, I have to go to them with the tin cup to beg money. Those days are gone.”

Part of his job as EMC CIO, he says, is to guide and demonstrate to fellow CIOs how to make that transition from system maintainer to provider of services that will transform the business and drive growth. Part of the problem is CIOs with a rearward-focused approach. But another part of that problem, that is often harder to solve, is that while the CIO may want to build those transformative services, the IT staff is still stuck with the traditional skills and the focus on manually running the IT infrastructure. Solving that, he admits, is the bigger challenge, because it requires massive retraining and a refocusing of the entire ITO.

Today SaaS and similar services sell directly to business leaders because when they went to the CIO they were told, “Go away. We know how to run our data centers. We don’t need you.” What that has done, Bhagat, former CIO of GE, says, is change the expectations of those C-suite business executives. Now they no longer accept the IT story of “give us money and we will spend two years building the system you want.” The SaaS service comes in with the system ready to go now.

That is going to be a hard proposition to compete against, but internal IT does have one advantage, Bhagat says. “When IT builds the service, it understands that service better than anyone, end-to-end.

“I think the companies that do evolve and prosper will demand that transformation from their IT. What attracted me to EMC is it will be a big player in the solutions that help transform businesses. This is a company at the leading edge of driving the organization. This is not just about selling iron, it’s about selling IT to the business, and my role will be to help EMC customers understand how to contemporize information technology.”

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