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The Grill: Chris Curran on 'The Year of the CIO'

Mary K. Pratt | April 9, 2013
PwC's chief technologist says CIOs ought to be primed to take on dual roles.

For all you CIOs out there, PricewaterhouseCoopers principal Chris Curran has a message: This is your year. Curran, who also serves as chief technologist for the U.S. business consulting firm's advisory practice, called 2013 "The Year of the CIO" in one of his recent CIO Dashboard blog posts. This turning point for the CIO job is just one of the trends that Curran sees. He says CIOs must be ready to harness the power of a slew of technologies if they want to say competitive. Here Curran offers insight into his vision for IT through 2013 and beyond.

Chris Curran

Wife of 25 years and two teenage sons.Favorite tech toys: A Bluetooth stylus and my electric car.Are you ever completely unplugged? A few times a year on a beach, fly fishing or backpacking.If you weren't in IT, what would you be? A chef.Hobbies: Coaching and playing basketball, baking pizza.Hometown: Plano, Texas.A little-known fact about you: I've been to 10 Rush concerts.

PwC has released its "2013 Top 10 Technology Trends for Business." Which of those trends are CIOs best positioned to make the most of? Pervasive computing is one that has a lot of traction and continues to have a lot of opportunities. We call it that because calling it smartphones or apps or mobile is too limited. Pervasive computing captures not just smartphones and apps and tablets but the opportunities emerging around individual devices. The pervasive computing trend is going to keep getting traction once enterprises get beyond the BYOD, the governance, the financial side of providing devices, and move into providing business applications in the mobile context. Once the platform -- the phone, the management of the phone, security -- is settled, it's "What do we do with this beyond email and calendar and the simple stuff?" That's probably the biggest opportunity.

Why is 2013 the year of the CIO? The last couple of years we've talked about the dual role of the CIO, the traditional role and a value-creating role of the CIO -- driving new business, new products and services into the marketplace. And the reason I say it's a turning point for CIOs is we're seeing several different outlets calling for an explicitly new role -- a chief digital officer -- I've heard other names for it -- that is trying to address this second role, this market-facing role. Because of this additional focus, it might be the time when CIOs finally get to make the case for taking both roles. It's an opportunity for CIOs to say, "See all that stuff they're talking about? That's my job, and here's why."

Are most CIOs up for making their case? Yes. Many CIOs are champing at the bit to bring the business more impactful and innovative ideas.


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