A recent round table debate featured 20 CIOs from a wide spectrum of vertical markets discussing the challenges and opportunities of IT consumerisation in the enterprise.

Industries present included retail distribution, engineering, telecommunications, a number from the insurance sector, construction, housing associations, the NHS, academia, outsource services and real estate. Co-hosts of the event were Intel.

It was clear from the outset that all the CIOs present saw and embraced the opportunities that increased mobility provided to their organisation, staff and customers. The nuance was in fulfilling the regulatory compliance, moral behaviour towards customers and employees and ensuring mobility is secure yet usable enough to benefit all of these important stakeholders.

This nuance meant that despite the Tower 42 dining room being full to the gills with technology leaders, the debate was not solely about the strengths or weaknesses of encryption or VPN, but a business leadership discussion on people management and leadership.

As a result the discussion divided into two camps and these camps tend to reflect the user base that the attendees came from. One camp had experience of the very stringent security protocols used by the Ministry of Defence and other military spheres that requires high end technology, strict rules of behaviour and an instant dismissal threat level. IT leaders in financial services, engineering and outsource services advocated this level of security.

Interestingly the second half of the attendees felt that such measures were negative to the organisation and the role of the CIO. Too much lock down they felt stifles the technology and promotes shadow IT or increased uncontrollable use of personal technology and services.

So is there a third way? Living up to the job title of chief information officer was the common ground the entire group of attendees agreed upon. All agreed one of the most critical problems in organisations today is ensuring everyone in the organisations understands the value of information and their responsibilities towards that information. CIOs from financial services, healthcare, government and outsource services discussed and largely agreed that employees need to understand that the information they are handling day in day out affects people’s lives. As a result the discussion referred back to consumerisation as not being an issue about the devices and whether they are mobile but to the attitudes towards information.

Intel, who were co-hosting the event described the training, behaviour influence and technology the technology experts use to keep information secure. As one of the world’s leading technology suppliers and a company built on a an impressive intellectual property bank Jim Henrys, principal strategist for Enterprise Solution Sales at Intel, explained the regular training and what you could almost describe as executive coaching that he and other Intel leaders go through.  Many CIOs found this an interesting point and enjoyed hearing first hand experiences.

Henrys’ examples were further built upon by health and public sector CIOs on the challenges of leadership and culture change. The rise of social media and the fact that the generation born in the 1990s and therefore that grown up with social media was attributed with being a cause for concern. Stories circulated the table of teenage children and young staff sharing levels of personal information that previous generations never would have. Thus their understanding of information value is limited.

It was interesting that the discussion though out the evening was largely focused on change management and leadership issues rather than technology. There are many observers of the CIO world that over focus on the technology aspect of the role and forget that a major part of the CIO role is about change management and leadership. Equally these same observers fail to see that information is a key business asset and that it falls to the CIO to secure it, manage it effectively for the organisation and provide technology that will enable the enterprise to benefit from its information.

CIOs need their organisations to enable them to embrace their job titles and change information behaviour through leadership and technology.