Cloud Leaders Series: Tony DiBenedetto Predicts CMOs to Have a Predictive Analytics Function

Tony DiBenedetto, Chairman and CEO for Tribridge -- a national technology services firm specializing in business applications and cloud solutions -- continues the Cloud Leaders Shaping IT and Business series. As the lead on the strategic direction and development of Tribridge, he oversees corporate operations and ensures the firm’s business units, community relations, and culture are securely positioned for greater innovation and growth.

Tony co-founded Tribridge in 1998 and has led the firm through the successful acquisition and integration of several companies, resulting in a compounded annual growth rate of over 40 percent each year. Under his guidance, Tribridge has grown from a start-up company to one of the leading technology services providers in the United States.

Tony DiBenedetto, Chairman and CEO for Tribridge

1. What is your biggest prediction of how the cloud will change IT and business in the next three years?

I believe the cloud will significantly change how we approach the management of IT infrastructure and software applications, and will consequently offer tremendous business benefits. The biggest impact will be a rapid shift from the internal management of the IT infrastructure to outside, third-party cloud providers. In terms of tighter security and greater performance, I think we will see more organizations choose virtual private clouds rather than public clouds.

The second biggest impact of the cloud will entail a change of buying habits from perpetual software licensing to needs-based purchasing. Organizations are in the driver’s seat and can turn applications “on and off” as they need them, freeing up capital for initiatives in other areas of the business besides IT. This will allow people to take more risks on technology and will help the organization achieve ROI much faster.

I see the cloud forcing the traditional IT profile to continue its shift from technology management to a greater focus on strategy and innovation. Organizations will look for IT professionals who can bring business acumen and creative talent to the table in addition to technical skills. In response, leaders will need to keep pace by developing work environments that breed innovative thinking, creative disruption and value-add for the business. The role of IT is no longer about keeping the lights on; it’s “How am I going to help change and grow the business?”

2. Can you share one prediction on how the roles of CTOs, CIOs and CMOs will co-mingle in the next three years?

I don’t necessarily see the roles co-mingling but rather being reprioritized and redefined within the organization. CTOs and CIOs are now generally focused on structuring IT operations to meet the needs of the business and managing the organization’s infrastructure, software and customization requirements. I think the cloud will help transform these roles from a consumption perspective to a more strategic platform of “How do we innovate to stay lockstep with or surpass the competition?” The CIO in particular will be freed up to solve big-picture challenges, and IT operations will become someone else’s headache, namely that of the third-party cloud provider.

If businesses want to differentiate and grow, the CTO will need to assume a larger role and act as the innovative disruptor. The CIO may even take a back seat to the CTO in this aspect. I see the CIO as putting the framework in place for capturing business analytics in support of the CMO, whose role will ascend to more power within the organization because of the shift in spending. In order to compete on a global basis, the CMO will need to assume a predictive analytics function with larger budget capabilities and greater influence.

3. What new data ownership models will dominate in two to three years given the converging role of IT and business?

I think the cloud will empower business users to take increasing ownership over their own data. If the operational issues are solved – you don’t have to worry about where your application is stored and whether it’s safe – then you will no longer have to rely on IT to be the translator between the infrastructure and the software. Business units will have greater autonomy because the skill set will be built into the solution. So what happens to IT? There will still be some applications that require internal management, but the traditional dependence on IT to orchestrate data models across the entire organization will largely diminish.