During the EDUCAUSE conference I went to a couple of sessions given by CIOs about their experiences and their views on the future role of CIOs and the changing nature of technology.
The first concentrated on the role, and how the scope and complexity of IT now spans the scope and complexity of the institution as a whole. Because of its reach, security, compliance and risk management issues are taking an increasingly dominant place in the responsibilities of a CIO. With the increasing role of SAAS and the Cloud, contracting and vendor management has grown significantly and will continue to do so. Everything is becoming much more complex, (including the data centre), and more critical to the institution so that things like upgrade windows are becoming increasingly hard to negotiate.
All of the above I agreed with, but then it was suggested that CIOs are seeing increased demands to maximise the value of existing investments rather than embark on new projects, and to focus more on delivery rather than strategy. I'm not too sure about this - and I tweeted so, to get a variety of different responses, most suggesting that this was a very noticeable difference on the different sides of the Atlantic. Most UK CIOs felt as under pressure to be strategic and deliver new initiatives as ever, while the US ones were coming under pressure to leverage the considerable sums of money spent in the last decade.
The other session focused more on what technology developments we are likely to see over the next few years. He had some interesting comparisons of computing back in 1969 which he compared to today, and then projected 40 years hence. A computer costing $1m dollars back in 1969 now costs $1000, and will probably cost about $1 in 2049, and he had figures for the speed of the network (1969 - 10 kbps, 2009 - 10Gbps, 2049 - 10 Pbps?), CPU speed, disc speeds etc.
What these increases will mean is perhaps harder to predict - look back at 1969 and work how much of what has happened since you could have predicted. He had a few suggestions though including autopilot personal transport devices (or self driving cars), space planes that will be able to travel distances long distances at high speeds, augmented and virtual reality in business applications, and automation induced high unemployment. What will we all do with out 115 year life expectancy?