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CIO’s role – under threat or opportunity?

Sachin Dabir | Founder & Director, Ashnik
USA, 17 May 2016

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Recently, during my visit to India, I met senior executive of HR department of one of the top 10 public sector companies in India. He told me about the key initiatives his department has taken to establish better bond between management team and employees. I got interested in his story when he told me how he deployed a mobile app. The mobile app streams songs and short interviews with the management team which are aired in between. This gives a fun experience to the otherwise boring HR letters and emails. When I listened to the program, it was really fun and I am sure employees must be looking forward to it. This is a great initiative. But I am not writing this to praise just the initiative. There are many lessons in it.

Even more interesting was to know that this initiative was launched within 15 days of ideation. Imagine an idea executed within 15 days for such a size of an organization!! To me, this is an indication of many things – empowerment of the business by top management, business head’s confidence in handling technology without or minimum help from traditional IT department, ease of technology deployment itself. I asked him as to how much was the IT team involved in this whole process. The answer was minimum. It was not intentional. But it just happened to be that way.

What really insightful is the way businesses are finding solutions that involve technology deployment on their own and dealing with solution providers directly. While, in many organizations this is already happening, the rate at which this is happening is truly amazing.

This story illustrates the point that I have been talking about – CIOs are busy – rightly so – in keeping the lights on for IT department and business heads are unleashing new initiatives on their own. This also underscores one more area – the CIO’s role has to dramatically change. No wonder many organizations are setting up smaller, independent teams to try out new technologies, some are bringing in Chief Digital Officer along side Chief Information Officer and some are collaborating with startups to gain insights into emerging technologies.

Is this a threat to CIOs? I certainly don’t think so. I feel it is a great opportunity for them to add more value to the businesses, become trusted advisor and may be to become technology incubators. This is not going to be easy. It is difficult to get extra budget just to try out the new technologies without a business case. But that is exactly the reason for CIOs to get involved in the business.

Interesting times are ahead.


  • Sachin is veteran in IT industry and brings over 25 years of experience in setting up new businesses, leading high performance sales teams and executing growth strategies. He is passionate about open source and is an acknowledged leader in open source in Asia. As a founder of Ashnik he is leading the growth initiatives and taking Ashnik global. His stints in Asia, UK and USA enables him to bring unique perspective to entrepreneurship and life. His interests in writing, reading and mentoring makes him an excellent networker. Currently he is learning to be a patient father to teenage sons and striving to be a good husband.

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