CIO in a Service Economy

  • Paul G. Sorenson
Part of the Service Science: Research and Innovations in the Service Economy book series (SSRI)


The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has evolved considerably since its inception in the 1980s. This paper begins with a brief review of the evolution of this role and sets the stage for future change brought about by the rise of the service economy. The enterprise of the future is then characterized based on an important global study by IBM. Using this characterization, the future challenges for CIOs in areas such as strategic planning, governance and operations management of information technology services are assessed from the perspectives of the four major elements of a service system (technology, people, organization and shared information). The paper concludes with a summary of the important findings, pointing to the challenge that CIOs of the future must be the leaders in their organizations in the delivery of smarter, on-demand service systems to smarter customers.

This chapter explores the impact of the growing service economy on the role of CIO in both today’s enterprise and the enterprise of the future. We begin by ­reviewing both the changing role of the CIO in Sect. 1 and the rise of services in our modern economy in Sect. 2. We then review an important study on the enterprise of the future in Sect. 3 and use this as a basis for better understanding the future role of the CIO. Next, we examine in Sects. 4–7, respectively, the four major elements of a service system (technology, people, organization and shared information) and the impact the CIO must have on each of these elements pertaining to activities such the strategic planning, governance and operations management of information ­technology services. Finally, in Sect. 8 we summarize our findings and dangerously distill the results into a final statement that CIOs of the future must be the leaders in delivering smarter, on-demand service systems to smarter customers.


Service science service systems chief information officer service economy service innovation 


Epilogue and Acknowledgements

In preparing this paper I have had many interesting discussions with other CIOs at Canadian companies and universities, with researchers in service systems including several in the Services Science department at the IBM Almaden Research Center, and with several CIOs from Australia Universities that I recently visited. A common question I asked was “Will this rapid change toward the adoption of service systems fundamentally change the role of the CIO?” I did not get a consensus in the responses. Some believe that it will require a fundamental role shift that focuses on thinking exclusively about the services needed and provided by an enterprise with little emphasis on the technology strategy – their view is that the technology is simply a commodity and provides little if any strategic value. Others, in particular, more senior CIOs believe the change is more evolutionary – just as CIOs had to deal with the decentralization of IT systems in the 1990s they will need to address the centralization trends of today and in the near future brought on by service systems. In all cases, it was agreed that in the near future there will be major changes required of the CIO and all currently in this position will be challenged by these changes.

I wish to take the opportunity to thank all those who participated in many interesting discussions with me but in particular Jim Spohrer, Norm Pass and Paul Maglio from IBM Almaden during my visit at Almaden in October and November 2008. I wish to also thank my Ph.D. students Xian Chen and Abhishek Srivastava for assisting me in this research and gratefully acknowledge NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council) of Canada for funding support of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer US 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul G. Sorenson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computing ScienceUniversity of AlbertaAlbertaCanada

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