CIO of Groupama Insurances: CIO role set to disappear

By Sooraj Shah
27 Sep 2012 View Comments

The CIO role is set to disappear in the next 15 to 20 years, according to Groupama Insurances CIO Jem Eskenazi (pictured).

In an interview with Computing, Eskenazi said that the CIO role that he currently performs is going through a transition that will soon see it become irrelevant.

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"Since the early 1990s I've been saying that the CIO role will become more strategic and more critical to companies, and now people are saying it a lot more. But what I now believe is in contrast to most CIOs," he explained.

The Groupama CIO used the example of the "director of electricity", a role that was very common a century ago but then disappeared.

"Electricity used to be a product available internally and people didn't know how to use it to make their companies work better, so they needed someone in a strategic role.

"Eventually, electricity was just something that could be procured and people learned how to use it for the company, so the strategic aspect of the role was absorbed back within the general management of the company, whether it was with the CEO or COO. I think in the next 15 or 20 years, IT will be so easily procured and configured that the strategic aspect of it will go back to the business," Eskenazi explained.

He went on to say that management outside of IT would be able to get hold of the IT services they needed without having to worry about the underlying technology.

"There will not be a need in 20 years for someone who translates the strategic needs of IT to a technology need and vice versa. There will still be some kind of technology person up there to define the architecture and to make sure that the pieces work together but that person will not be the one that will come in and say, ‘Actually I can make you more competitive by offering this or advising on that', which is what CIOs should be doing today," Eskenazi said.

In the meantime, Eskenazi explained that there is a lot of activity within the technology area that requires "an intelligent and knowledgeable person to put it all together".

He said that the new generation of CEOs and COOs are becoming more technology savvy, or at least more understanding of what technology can accomplish.

"Twenty years ago my boss did not know how to type. Ten years ago my boss had his secretary print emails and bring them to his desk and sign and return them. Today I can discuss service-oriented architecture with my boss. In another 10 years, [CEOs] will have a pretty good idea of how everything fits together," Eskenazi said.

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