Meet the New CTO – It's the CIO
A clear indication that the technology power base within communications service providers (CSPs) is shifting towards the IT team came last week when Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) group CIO Albert Hitchcock revealed details of his company's international staffing strategy.
"We are hiring top grade CIOs in our local markets and the view is that those CIOs will become the CTOs," stated Hitchcock during a keynote session at Management World 2012. "We see that the job profile of the CTO in a Vodafone local market, or ultimately in the center [of the company], is to be an IT guy and not the networks guy. That's a conscious decision and we're hiring top IT talent to make that change," he added, while noting that this wasn't always the case.
"[Vodafone's] heritage was radio networks, so the pinnacle at Vodafone was to be the CTO. If you wanted to be the CTO in a country then you had to be a radio guy. I can say this because I used to be a radio guy, but now I am firmly an IT guy … [But] the DNA of the individual [CTO] in the future will not be in radio, it will be someone that understands integrated IT services."
That shift towards a more influential role for the telco CIO is not new: Light Reading has been covering that trend as part of its Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) coverage, most specifically in the Bridging the Chasm Manifesto and in the publication of The Top 20 Bridge Builders. (See Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto.)
Hitchcock's revelation, though, is one of the most overt examples of this trend and is part of the ongoing shift within Vodafone that gives as much responsibility to IT as it does networks.
"A big part of what we have done at Vodafone in the past few years has been about breaking down the barriers -- breaking down barriers between the center [of the company] and the countries, breaking down the barriers between networks and IT. That's a cultural change … We're not going to be successful and we're not going to be able to innovate unless we have a level of cooperation and a level of integration of the networks and IT strategy into the business," stated Hitchcock.
"So a big piece of the work I've led and which Steve Pusey [group CTO] has led has been the cultural change -- it's not just been about the technology integration," he said.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading